By Chris McCarthy/Editor
2014 Hokes Bluff High graduate and Purdue University incoming sophomore Isaac Haas is of one of 16 players collegiate players selected by USA Basketball to receive an invitation to take part in the 2015 U.S. Pan American Games men’s basketball team training camp. The camp is used to select the 12 players who will represent the United States at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, in August.
The tryouts begin July 7 in Colorado Springs.
The 7-2, 297-pound Haas joins Illinois junior Malcolm Hill as the only 19-year olds invited to try out for the team and is one of five players that are 20 or younger on the list.
“It’s a big honor, and I’m definitely excited,” said Haas, who was a finalist last season for the Kyle Macy Award as the nation’s top freshman. “[Purdue] Coach [Matt] Painter told it me was a great opportunity and that I should do it. As the date for reporting gets nearer, the more excited I am.
“There’s going to be a lot of good players who’ll be competing for a spot as hard as I will. Plus, the opportunity to represent my country is definitely driving me. I’ll just work hard on my conditioning and go out there and show them what I have.”
Haas had a strong 2014-15 freshman season in helping the Boilermakers to the NCAA Tournament, averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 53.5 percent from the field in just 14.6 minutes per contest. He was the only player in the country to shoot at least 130 free throws while playing under 15 minutes per contest and recorded 14 double-figure scoring games.
Haas tallied a career-high 19 points with six rebounds against Kansas State and had a 12-point, nine-rebound showing in just 12 minutes during a road win at Indiana. He also scored 13 points with seven rebounds in Purdue’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge win over North Carolina State.
“I felt like I did all right last season, but there’s definitely room for improvement,” said Haas. “College conditioning is a whole lot different than high school, so I’m working on that. I also think that I need to play smarter and not harder. I’m starting to learn that every step that I take, whether it is weigthtlifing, playing in the gym or scrimmaging, is helping me realize my role and what needs to be done to help me develop as a player.”
As a senior at Hokes Bluff, Haas led the Eagles to a 27-6 record, the county and area tournament titles and a berth in the Class 4A Northeast Regional Tournament for the first time in school history. Along the way, Haas recorded 20.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game. He also made the ASWA Class 4A All-State first team, was named The Messengers’ co-Player of the Year and participated in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
“It’s a huge deal for Isaac,” said Greg Watkins, Haas’ basketball coach at Hokes Bluff. “I though he had a real good freshman year at Purdue, and he’ll only get better in Coach Painter’s system, which has a reputation for developing good post players. I think he’s matured a lot, too, because it’s a tough transition for any kid going from high school to college ball. My only advice to Isaac when he signed was to be coachable in that if he does what they ask him to do, things will work out. Good things usually happened to someone like him with his stats and work ethic.”
This story was supplemented by purduesports.com.