By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Isaiah Joe formally ended his Arkansas Razorbacks playing career just over a week ago, and now he’s entrusting a member of the Hogs’ family to help him cement his place among the 60 selections in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.
Joe has hired Mike Conley, Sr. — former Arkansas track-and-field great who won a gold medal in the triple jump in the 1992 Olympics — as his agent in preparation for the draft that is currently scheduled for Oct. 16.
Conley is CEO of MMG Sports Management, LLC, in Fayetteville. He has represented his son, Mike Conley, Jr. (selected No. 4 overall in 2007, currently plays with the Utah Jazz) as well as his son’s teammates at Ohio State, Greg Oden (No. 1 overall pick in 2007) and Daequan Cook (No. 21 overall pick in 2007). Conley represented guard Jeff Teague, selected 19th overall out of Wake Forest in 2009. Conley also represented forward Josh McRoberts, who played collegiately at Duke and whose final season in the NBA was with the Dallas Mavericks in 2017-18.
Joe first declared for the draft in late April but withdrew from it on Aug. 1 with intentions to return to Arkansas for his junior season, but 15 days later he re-entered the draft just a day ahead of the NBA’s Aug. 17 deadline for college underclassmen to declare. At that time, Joe forfeited the remaining two seasons of his collegiate eligibility, and now eight days later he has chosen his agent to advance his prospects of being drafted.
One of 60 or so draft-eligible players invited in late July to the NBA Draft Combine, Joe’s draft projections surged in recent days following the NBA Draft lottery that was held Thursday, Aug. 20, to sort out the selection order of the two-round, 60-player draft.
Joe is looking to become only the fourth former Razorback to be drafted after leaving school following his sophomore season (Joe Johnson in 2001, Bobby Portis in 2015, and Daniel Gafford in 2019).
Joe joined Co-SEC Player of the Year Mason Jones in leaving Arkansas with remaining eligibility following the ’19-20 season. Jones announced the hiring of his agent representation, Los Angeles-based Creative Arts Agency, in early May.
Joe went through training workouts last week with former Arkansas guard and former NBA player Ronnie Brewer, Jr., who was the No. 14 pick overall (first round) in the 2006 NBA Draft.
Joe finished his Arkansas career as arguably the best three-point shooter in the SEC spanning his two seasons.
He earned SEC All Freshman honors in ’18-19 when he was the first Hog rookie to start every game since Portis (’13-14) while averaging 13.9 points and setting the school record for made three-pointers (113 at a 41.4% clip). Joe was a preseason All SEC pick as a sophomore and through the mid-point of the season he was named 1 of 10 finalists for the postseason Jerry West Award, which honors the top shooting guard in the nation.
But he was hampered by a mid-season injury, affecting his play in five games and causing him to miss six more. In the end, Joe played in 26 games in ’19-20 and finished the season as the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.9 points per game (7th in the SEC) and the league’s leader in made triples (94) despite missing those six games due to the injury. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 36.2 minutes. He led the team in charges for a second straight season, and he was 81-of-91 from the free throw line for 89.0% (the efficiency led the team and was top 3 in the SEC). He was once named SEC Player of the Week.
In the nine SEC games that Joe played in while healthy (three prior to injury and six after returning from injury), the Hogs went 6-3 as he averaged 20.4 points while shooting a collective 36-of-97 from 3 (37.1%) and 42-of-43 from the free throw line (97.7%). Arkansas finished the season 20-12, but the Hogs were 17-4 with a healthy Joe in the lineup.
In his two seasons at Arkansas, Joe registered 910 career points and 207 career made 3-pointers (7th most in school history) at a 37.8% clip in 60 career games (he started all but once in the games he played in as a Hog).