When Isaac Suffren and his mother, Angelica, moved from Atlanta to Charlotte in 2014, then-14-year-old Isaac was adjusting to a new city and school, and recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
He suffered the injury playing football in middle school.
When Myers Park held basketball tryouts, Isaac still hadn’t been cleared for full activity and was forced to shoot on the side. He ended up playing for the Mustangs’ junior varsity team, where he had a solid season.
“My freshman year was definitely tough and frustrating at times because I wasn’t fully healthy and I was the new guy and didn’t know anyone at first,” Suffren said. “But I was very motivated to not only earn my coaches and teammates’ respect, but also prove myself as a player. All of that made me focus on basketball even more and work even harder.”
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Myers Park coach, Wes Hepler, has watched Suffren grow.
“You could tell Isaac was going to be a good player from the start,” said Hepler. “He had a good, but not outstanding J.V. year. But you could tell he was still recovering and not at full speed for most of the season. But he showed he was willing to work extremely hard. He put in a lot of work this offseason.”
Suffren did a lot of his work with his uncle, Adrian Suffren, who is a personal basketball trainer in the Charlotte area. Adrian Suffren runs his own basketball training program.
Suffren’s entire family has had an impact on his basketball game since he started playing at age three. Both of his uncles, Adrian (North Carolina Central) and Hughes (Iowa State) and his mother, Angelica (Austin Peay), played college basketball. Angelica Suffren is now a college basketball referee.
Isaac inherited his passion for the sport. He often can be found in the Myers Park gym before 6 a.m. practicing shots with Mustang teammate, Zailan Peeler.
“I want to be the best player that I can be, and to do that you have to be willing to work in early mornings, late at night, on the weekends, whenever,” Isaac said. “I’m always thinking about my competition, there are a lot of other guys out there working just as hard. So, I can’t be asleep or playing video games. I need to be on the court.”
This year he has earned a spot in the Myers Park varsity starting lineup. He also scored 27 points in his first high school, varsity game -- a 57-55 overtime win over Ardrey Kell.
The 6-foot-3, 160-pound sophomore made five three-pointers his debut. He also had 22 points, including six three-pointers, in a narrow loss (60-58) to Charlotte Catholic.
Isaac is averaging a team-best 16.6 points and 2.4 steals per game, while also grabbing four rebounds.
“It felt great to play so well in my first (varsity) game, but I really didn’t realize how many points I had, I just wanted us to win the game,” he said. “When you work really hard at something, it’s nice to see it pay off with results. But it was just one game, and really it just motivates to want to work harder to do it again and again. I feel like I have something to prove every time I take the court.”
Suffren, 15, said the entire, Myers Park basketball team is playing with something to prove after losing all five starters to graduation from a team that went to the 4A West Regional semifinals last year.
“The thing I love about this team is that all of us feel like we have something to prove, because everyone is playing a new role this year,” Isaac said. “We’re just starting to get in the flow this year. But as the year goes on, we are going to get better and better.
…We all saw last year’s team make a great run in the playoffs and play in some big games and we want to be even better this year.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.