The smooth shooting stroke, high court IQ, and ability to create shots with or without the ball has made Benilde-St. Margaret's combo guard Isaiah Zierden a popular player amongst Twin Cities college scouts and high school basketball fans alike. Zierden scored 16 points a game as a sophomore for the 24-6 Red Knights and has been a top performer for the Pulley Panthers who are currently 23-4.
In 24 of the Benilde-St. Margaret's 30 games Zierden scored in double figures and in five of the six games that Isaiah didn't hit double digits it was more because the starters sat much of the second half 20 plus points ahead. Ten times Zierden went over the 20 point barrier including a season high of 31 against Totino-Grace and Isaiah will enter his upperclassmen years with 608 career points.
This spring and summer Zierden is playing up a level with the Howard Pulley Panther 17s. The Panthers have played 27 games already spread out over five weekends. This includes a 12-2 record in games played in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and a Sabes Invitational championship that saw the Panthers win seven straight (Zierden averaged 12.2 points a game in the Sabes Invite good for second on the team behind Joe Coleman's 16 a contest).
"The season is going really well right now," said Zierden. "As a team we are 13 and 2 in the EYBL playing against some of the best high school players. Being at these big tournaments is great but I would have to say Boo Williams is where my top moments have come from so far."
At the Boo Williams the Panthers went 4-1 overall with Isaiah's 30 point, seven three-point make performance in a 81-74 win over The Family ranking as one of the weekend highlights. Zierden's scoring outburst was done with national eyes watching and it made Rivals.com headlines.
Playing with Pulley is a big part is Isaiah's off-season schedule but he will also be putting in work individually to increase his skill level.
"My off-season focus is on improving my whole game," Isaiah explained. "I want to really improve my dribbling, scoring off the dribble, and defense, but I really want to work on being a knock-down shooter where if it doesn't go in people are surprised."
Colleges have started to contact Isaiah although he hasn't heard to much from the local D1 school.
"There have been a few (colleges showing interest)," explained Zierden. "So far its been Northern Iowa, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Santa Clara, Colorado State,. and Michigan. (Minnesota) hasn't really shown a lot but it is always fun thinking about playing in your home state for the college team, but I would like to play for the Gophers since I grew up here."
If the 6-foot-2 Zierden continues at his current pace of progress Minnesota may have to take a closer look and numerous schools around the nation will certainly continue their pursuit.
Isaiah is the son of current Washington Wizards assistant coach Don Zierden who has also coached with the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA, the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA, he coached in college at Tulsa, he spent a season as a Minnesota Gopher radio analyst, spent much of the 90s in the American basketball minor leagues, and early in his coaching career Zierden was the head coach at DeLaSalle in downtown Minneapolis.