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AAC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinal Round - UCF v CincinnatiAfter having a successful career at University of Central Florida, Detroit native Isaiah Sykes is taking his talents overseas to play in Italy, where he will play with La Fortezza Recanati in Serie A2 Silver — an Italian league, the team’s site reported.

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Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sykes began playing the game of basketball at a young age. However it was during his time at Detroit Denby High School, that he became known as one of the top players in the city of Detroit and in the state of Michigan, which earned him the rating as 39th-best small forward in the nation by As a senior he averaged, 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, even helping to lead Denny to the Michigan A State Semifinals. If that’s not enough, he also played in the Michigan High School All-Star Game, where he scored 17 points.

Keep in mind that Sykes was just as impressive during his time four-year career at UCF. When he came in, he was what some would call an awkward young player who had a lot to learn but under Knights head coach Donnie Jones, Sykes earned the distinction as the most-improved player on UCF’s roster each season. If you think I am exaggerating, just look at his stats, which speaks for itself. He went from averaging four points per game as a freshman to 12 points as a sophomore and 16 points as junior.

Then as a senior he was even more impressive, as he appeared in 30 games, starting 29 of those games, while leading UCF in scoring and rebounding with 17 points and seven rebounds per game. Sykes finished his career at UCF with 1,545 points, which ranks eighth all-time in program history. He also ended up fourth in the record books with 764 rebounds, third with 183 steals, and fifth with 336 career assists, which earned him the honor of being named to the American Athletic Conference All-Tournament Team and to the All-American Athletic Conference Second Team.

While Sykes is already unique from the average professional basketball player since he has four years of college basketball under his belt. The more important fact about Sykes, is that he also finished his four years at UFC, with a well-deserved bachelor’s degree, making him the first to graduate from college in his family according to his former head coach Donnie Jones.

“I’m really proud of Isaiah,” UCF head coach Donnie Jones said in a statement earlier this month. “We came in together as he was one of my first recruits. To know how far he’s come since his freshman season is very rewarding.

“This is a great day for him and his family, he’s the first to graduate from college in his family. And it’s also a great day for UCF Basketball. Any time we have a great person, a great player, and a great student graduate, it’s a win.”

Although, he went un-drafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, there is no doubt that this young man can do plenty of great things on the court and if you ask me, La Fortezza Recanati is lucky to have him.

Coming in at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Sykes already has a strong frame along with long arms and impressive athleticism. Plus he is a versatile guard, who can do it all. Offensively, he is a good scorer who knows how to get to get to rim and finish through contact. Defensively, he is a very good rebounder, especially for guard, not to mention he does a good job of playing the passing lanes, which allows him to earn a lot of steals. Probably the most underrated aspect of his game is his unselfishness and has ability create for others as an underrated passer.

If that’s not enough, Sykes is one of the most hard-working players that I have ever seen come out of Detroit. UCF head coach Donnie Jones, even described him as an overachiever, who never lets any obstacles get in the way of his goals, which says a lot about this young man’s character.

“Everybody’s going to have a different path to get where they want to get to,” said coach Jones regarding Sykes’ future. “Isaiah has been an overachiever and a overcomer of all obstacles he’s faced. He will have a lot of good opportunities to go overseas and play very good basketball.”

Overall, I am very happy for Sykes, he is truly a gem on and off the court and there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to have great success on and off the court as he continues to be inspired by his 2-year-old daughter Makayla.

“Usually people working hard on basketball, it’d be for yourself,” Sykes said to the Orlando Sentinel back in March. “When you have a daughter or a son or a child, you’re not just working for yourself, you’re working for your family. You’ve got to change the objectives of it. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture. It’s not just about you. I put them before me, and this is what I’ve got to do in order for her to have the life I want for her.”

Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit

For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.


Former Detroit Denby Star Isaiah Sykes Will Play His First Pro Season in Italy was originally published on

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