Ryan grad Brockington dancing with St. Bonaventure

Ryan grad Izaiah Brockington is scoring 4.4 points per game for St. Bonaventure heading into the tournament. PHOTO: ST. BONAVENTURE

Perhaps the national sports shows should look to hire Izaiah Brockington as an NCAA basketball analyst.

After all, he was one of the first people in the country to predict St. Bonaventure University would make the prestigious tournament.

“I really believed that when I decided to come here and once I saw everyone play, I knew we would make the tournament, either by getting an at-large bid or by winning the (Atlantic 10 Conference),” said Brockington, who graduated from Archbishop Ryan last year. “I knew these guys were good enough. A lot of people doubted us, but I really believed we would be playing in it. I just knew how deep we are and how much talent we had. I’m not surprised at all”

Brockington isn’t just picking winners, he’s also helping the Bonnies on the floor.

The smooth guard comes off the bench to play about 12 minutes a game for Bonaventure, scoring more than four points a game in helping the Bonnies to a 25–7 record. The Bonnies earned an 11 seed in the tournament, but they’ll get going a few days early.

The Bonnies will meet UCLA in a play-in game on Tuesday night. The winner will go on to play sixth-seeded Florida on Thursday at 9:57 p.m.

“We didn’t want to play before the tournament, but that’s what we got, so we’ll go out and try to win,” said Brockington, who also averages an assist and 1.5 rebounds per game. “I’m just happy to make the tournament. And it will be fun because we’re the only team playing (during the play-in game), so everyone will be watching us, and UCLA is a good team. We want to play them.”
This will be the seventh time in school history the Bonnies will play in the tournament and the first since 2012.

They also come in hot.

St. Bonaventure saw its 13-game winning streak snapped in the Atlantic 10 semifinals on Saturday. On the year, they have victories over Rhode Island, Maryland, Vermont and Syracuse. The goal is to win seven more times, but making the tournament is a great accomplishment.

“We’re playing for the seniors,” Brockington said. “They’ve had great careers. For the freshmen and sophomores, making the tournament is great and all, but I’m like, ‘Of course we are making it.’ But those guys have been here, had great teams and didn’t make it. They really want to be here.”

Brockington is no stranger to playing in important games. He got a lot of experience in big spots when he was at Ryan.

During his junior year, Brockington helped guide the Raiders to a berth in the Catholic League semifinals, which meant a trip to the Palestra.

He did the same as a senior, and then went on to help Ryan advance to the semifinals of the Class 6A playoffs.

“The tournament is a bigger stage, but playing in those big spots when I was at Ryan helped prepare me for this kind of game,” Brockington said. “We went far, and we were in really big games. I definitely think that will help me.”

Just as this year’s berth in the tournament will help him moving forward.

The Bonnies have three seniors on the roster, and they all contribute. But the team has a lot of underclassmen who have played a big role in helping the team get to the big dance. They’ll get valuable experience this year.

For Brockington, who was slated to go to Woodstock Academy before accepting the scholarship to St. Bonaventure, it’s been quite the year. And he’s hoping it’s just the start.

“It’s crazy to think that I was going to prep school and then everything worked out so I came here,” said Brockington, who was First-Team All-Catholic during his final two years at Ryan. “it’s a great feeling that I bet on myself coming here, and I found a great school and now we’re playing in the tournament. It’s worked out perfectly.”

And just like when he was at Ryan, Brockington still has a lot of fans who love to see him star on the court.

He found out just how many people were in his corner after his team’s name was called on Selection Sunday.

“I couldn’t believe how many people hit me up after they called our name,” said Brockington, who watched the show with his teammates and fans in the Reilly Center, where the team plays its home games. “So many people, friends and family. I’m so happy. I never realized how many people were paying attention to us.

“We’re the only game on Tuesday when we’re playing, so I know people will be watching. We want to win there and then get into the tournament. It’s been a great year and hopefully it gets even better.” ••