Xavier Johnson / The Advocate
In a national sports climate that emphasizes the flashy, players who are consistent, efficient and exhibit fundamental skills are often overlooked.
Sometimes, for those more cerebral players, it takes reaching a level of growth to establish a mark of distinction.
For The Advocate’s 2019 Male Athlete of the Year, Comet guard Isaiah Attles, those traits were evident in his leadership on and off the court throughout the 2018-19 season, resulting in multiple scholarship opportunities and a spot on the Bay Valley Conference All-Conference team.
Attles’ sophomore year was one that saw him in an increased role in the basketball program. And his influence included contributions outside of his on-the-court performance and his stats.
Attles said, “My biggest challenge this year was definitely transforming from being just a team player to a team leader. My coach put a lot of responsibility in my hands and let me know that this year’s team was mine to control.”
For men’s basketball Coach Miguel Johnson, Attles was a crucial leader who developed his voice within the program over time.
Johnson said, “When Isaiah first came into the program one of (our) goals was to have him become more of an on-the-court leader. He leads in a lot of ways academically — his work ethic, character and so forth. But when he came in he was in a shell, so to speak.”
Johnson said the coaching staff tried to get Attles to speak up during his freshman year, be more vocal and display confidence in his skill set as a player.
Attles was an All Conference honorable mention after his first year (2017-18), but with the tutoring and confidence of the coaching staff, he was able to grow as a player developing skills that resulted in an impressive and efficient stat line and a First Team All-BVC award in 2018-19.
He averaged 17.3 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting from the field (45.3 percent on 3-pointers) in the 26 games he played during the season leading the Comets to a 13-15 overall record and a 9-7 BVC record in their 2018-19 campaign.
Attles said, “Contra Costa was actually the second junior college I attended. I had done a year at Yuba College prior to coming to Contra Costa, but I didn’t play at Yuba.”
Johnson said he was contacted by Attles, who was not fitting schematically into the basketball program at Yuba.
“Apparently he wasn’t comfortable there. He didn’t like the environment and style of play,” Johnson said.
“He went to high school in Richmond at John F. Kennedy before leaving for Arizona (where he finished high school), so he was aware of our program. He came to the Gym one day, we had a conversation and that was it.”
Attles said, “The coaching staff has had a huge part in my development over these past two years.”
“If it weren’t for coach Johnson, (assistant coach Jason) Maples, (assistant coach Robert) Crain and (assistant coach D’Angelo) Mack, I don’t know where I would be as a player because all four of my coaches pushed me to become a better player while teaching me the skills that I know I will need at the next level.”
Stylistically, Attles was a perfect fit for Johnson and his up tempo offense, which focuses on spreading the court with athletic guards.
Johnson said, “What stands out is his ability to shoot the ball, stretch the floor to allow Eric (Jones) to penetrate and then (get the ball to) Evan Thompson and (Eric) Canales on the other side which helped Jones.
“He was able to (find) three shooters on the floor at any given moment, and he has the ability to attack the rim in transition. He’s very skilled in his ability to go both ways with his left and right.”
According to Johnson, Attles was not lacking in any one area of his game. He just needed a place of comfort to seize his opportunity.
“He didn’t have a lot of holes in his game,” Johnson said. “I think (his issue) was just from a mental aspect and being confident.
“He had it. He just needed an opportunity to be comfortable.”
For Attles, he will always remember his time at CCC with pride.
“I loved every moment being a Comet and I feel as if I will take my Comet pride with me wherever I go for the rest of my life,” Attles said.
“This was definitely a place where I evolved as a player and a person, and I believe that the skills I have worked on over these past two years will definitely help me in my athletic career.”
Attles and his family will host an event in the Fireside Hall on Friday to formally announce where he will transfer to and play basketball this upcoming season.
Attles said, “I’ve recently committed to Alcorn State University, where I will be spending the next two years playing basketball at the Division I level on a full-ride scholarship.”
Understanding the pressure of the next level but appreciating the lessons he learned during his time as a Comet is fueling him as he transitions to a new journey.