Isaiah Brock has had a change of heart.
The U.S. Army veteran, who emerged as a standout forward as an advanced-aged freshman last season, has decided to continue his basketball career, after having told Oakland officials over the summer that he was walking away from the game.
Brock, who turns 24 on Monday, returned to practice Thursday, Oakland officials confirmed.
Brock approached coach Greg Kampe and athletic director Jeff Konya in late July about his desire to move on from basketball and focus on getting on with his life, and he made it official in early August.
But he’s back, quite a boon for the Golden Grizzlies, who were 25-9 last season and are heavy favorites to win the Horizon League again this season.
Brock, a Baltimore native, spent four years in the U.S. Army, and late in his tenure, he met Kampe during a goodwill overseas visit from several basketball coaches. The two struck up a conversation, and Kampe told him he’d have a scholarship waiting when he returned from deployment and was discharged.
It was a leap of faith from Kampe, who didn’t know if Brock was good enough to play Division I basketball but felt like he wanted to do something. It didn’t cost the Golden Grizzlies a scholarship, since Brock has access to the G.I. Bill. So Kampe rolled the dice. And it paid off as Brock averaged 6.1 points and 6.2 rebounds last season, and was named to the Horizon League’s all-defensive team and all-freshman team. His 72 blocks put him fifth in program history.
All of that came after a summer in which Brock made national headlines, when the NCAA originally ruled him academically ineligible based off some five-year-old high-school grades. After a huge outcry locally and nationally, including from U.S. Rep Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, the NCAA backed off, and Brock was free to play.
His return means Oakland now has everyone back from last season’s team except the one senior, Sherron Dorsey-Walker, and guard Stevie Clark, who has transferred to NAIA school LSU-Shreveport to be closer to his brother. Oakland also adds a big-time player in Illinois transfer Kendrick Nunn to go with other standouts Jalen Hayes, Martez Walker, Nick Daniels and others.
Brock, 6-foot-11 and 200 pounds, served multiple deployments, in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and was highly decorated. Part of his job overseas was preparing fallen soldiers for their final trip home.