He’s one of the most intriguing talents in the basketball recruiting class of 2023. He’s due for a bump in those rankings the next time the national lists are updated. And he’s expected to be in Lexington this week for Kentucky’s next home game.
He might even leave town with a UK scholarship offer.
Isaiah Miranda — a 7-footer from Rhode Island — is quickly emerging as one of the top center prospects in the class of 2023, and he’s clearly caught Kentucky’s attention as a major recruit of interest.
UK coaches have already seen him play twice this high school season. In the first of those viewings, Orlando Antigua watched Miranda fill up the stat sheet for Commonwealth Academy (Mass.) in a 94-85 victory over the IMG Academy (Fla.) post-grad team. In that game, Miranda had 28 points and seven rebounds, going 13-for-19 from the floor and making two of his four three-point attempts.
Plans were quickly made to host him for an official visit centered on this week’s UK-U of L game. That matchup has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Cardinals’ program, but Kentucky will still play Western Kentucky on Wednesday night.
With a visit from Miranda, the Cats would be getting in relatively early on a player who might challenge for the No. 1 center spot in the 2023 class.
Miranda wasn’t even listed in the national rankings over the summer. A good showing on the grassroots circuit earned him the No. 42 position in the 247Sports rankings for 2023 in October. He’ll likely continue that upward trajectory when the list is updated next.
“I would expect him to rise,” said 247Sports analyst Travis Branham, who was also in the gym for Miranda’s 28-point game in front of Antigua. “The bigs in the 2023 class — it’s a down year for them, frankly. Isaiah is arguably the most talented big man in the entire class, when it comes to strictly talking about the ‘5’ position. He’s pushing 7-foot, he’s really athletic. His frame has yet to even start filling out. He can shoot from three. He can kind of create his own shot.
“So, he’s really, really talented. He does have a ways to go in his development, but, like I said, it’s a down year for the big men, so he is looking to make a pretty big jump in the next rankings update.”
Kentucky has scholarship offers out to at least six uncommitted 2023 prospects, in addition to an early commitment from junior Reed Sheppard, but none of those players is anything close to a college center. Baye Fall is currently the top-ranked player at the position in the 2023 class, and he’s expected to visit UK sometime later this season, but Miranda will be the first big from the class to get to Lexington for an official visit.
It’s still early in Miranda’s recruitment, which already features scholarship offers from programs such as Maryland, Memphis, Seton Hall, Southern Cal, Syracuse and UConn, among others. It’s also too early to tell exactly how big of an impact he could have as a college freshman.
Branham said Miranda needs to add strength to his frame and tends to shy away from contact. Ramping up his engagement defensively — and showing he can play at a high level on that end of the court for a full game — will be a key to his continued development. He has the length and athleticism to be an impact player on defense.
Offensively, the ball skills are certainly there to be an instant contributor two seasons from now.
“From the sheer talent perspective, yeah, absolutely,” Branham said when asked if Miranda could be a freshman starter on a team with national title aspirations. “But making that jump to college — regardless of how talented you are — there are things you have to learn and figure out to really contribute to a winning basketball team.”
John Calipari has obviously gone to the transfer portal in the recent past to plug frontcourt holes, with Oscar Tshiebwe, Olivier Sarr and Reid Travis all emerging as starting bigs right off the bat for the Wildcats.
With seemingly so few instant-impact options in the 2023 class for that position, Kentucky might be looking at a similar situation down the road. Or perhaps Miranda will continue to develop over the next two seasons and be ready for such a role as a freshman.
However he progresses on the court, he’ll be an intriguing talent for the Cats to keep an eye on.
“It’s a little too early to tell. It all just depends on his process — if he’s going to be the type of player that will start from day one at a program like Kentucky,” Branham said. “Or maybe it’s one of those things like we’re seeing now with Oscar Tshiebwe, where you go out into the portal, get a guy who’s going to be a big-time, impact post player, and then allow the other guys like a Daimion Collins to come into their own and take their time.”
This story was originally published December 21, 2021 7:00 AM.