Isaiah Dennis: Georgia State’s New Leader

Isaiah Dennis goes up for lay up during win over Middle Georgia State  Photo Submitted Georgia State Athletics
Isaiah Dennis goes up for lay up during win over Middle Georgia State
Photo Submitted Georgia State Athletics

If you’re looking for the second shortest guy on the basketball court that dunks like he’s in the NBA slam dunk contest, then you’re looking for none other than Isaiah Dennis. Dennis is 6 feet tall and the starting point guard for Georgia State. Dennis’ journey has been a long successful one that is just getting started.

“I grew up in McDonough, Georgia right in Henry County,” Dennis said. “It was a very quiet around there and everyone’s really friendly, and it was safe out there. The people are all really encouraging.”

Dennis, growing up in a safe environment in Henry County with friendly people, contributed to his success in high school. Dennis went to Eagles Landing High School, where he lead the varsity basketball team to successful seasons his last three years there.

In his sophomore and junior years at Eagles Landing, Dennis led the team to back-to-back appearances in the state’s 4A final four. His junior year, Dennis averaged 14 points a game along with 4 steals and a 28-3 team record.

It wasn’t until he was a senior, when he had his best season of his high school career. Dennis brought Eagles Landing its first state championship title in school history, blowing out every team by more than 13 points each tournament game. Dennis also earned Atlanta Tip-off Club All-Metro Team honors, as well as first-team all-state and first-team all-region 4A honors.

Dennis had success on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in high school. Dennis averaged 16.2 points, 4.3 assists, 3.6 steals and 3.1 rebounds his senior season. His senior season, Dennis won Henry County Player of the Year award and Eagles Landing High School defensive Player of the Year honors.

Dennis won the 2013 American Family Insurance High School Dunk contest by jumping over two other contestants. Dennis was also runner-up at the City of Palms Dunk Contest.

Dennis’ Impact on Panthers Basketball

Dennis joined Georgia State in the 2013-14 basketball season and made waves through the nation despite having little playing time. At Georgia State’s preseason Hoop Day event, Dennis dunked over 6-foot-10 teammate Curtis Washington. The dunk was featured on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 Play of the Day featured at number five on the countdown.

In his sophomore season, Dennis got more playing time. That year he averaged 2.7 points and shooting 51.6 percent from the floor. However, his shining moment came in one of the biggest games of the season against Baylor in the NCAA tournament second round.

Dennis came into the game for the injured Ryan Harrow and made an immediate impact on the floor. He played 21 minutes in that game in which he had a career high three steals, eight points and two assists. Thanks to his contribution and a clutch RJ Hunter three-pointer, the Panthers upset Baylor and advanced to the next round.

Now a junior with the Panthers, Dennis is the starting point guard for the team. Ron Hunter, head coach of the Panthers basketball team, emphasized in a postgame conference how Dennis is now the leader of this team.

“The key to our success is Isaiah Dennis,” coach Hunter said. “I’ve given my keys to the car to Dennis. My first year here I gave the keys to Devonta White, and the next year I gave them to Ryan Harrow, and now I’m giving it to Dennis this season. This show runs with our point guard and is successful with our point guard. That’s no pressure on Dennis, we’ve groomed him for this and he’s been here three years preparing for this moment and he will lead us.”

Dennis has grown over the years at Georgia State and it has shown. From being featured on Sportscenter, to stepping in at the NCAA tournament and now starting, Dennis has really grown into something special for Georgia State. Expect him to make a bigger impact than all of his previous seasons at Georgia State now.

What Makes Dennis So Special?

Dennis is athletically gifted, as well as playing offense and defense efficiently and it showed in the first exhibition game of the season against Oglethorpe. In that game, Dennis was 4-4 from the field scoring 11 points with three assists and three steals to win the game 85-34. After the game Dennis was asked what he thinks makes him so special.

“I just got a god given ability, being real athletic,” Dennis said. “I’ve always been athletic since I was a little kid, and just use that to my advantage on both offense and defense.”

Dennis has always been one of the smallest players on the court and you’d think that’d put him at a disadvantage, but rather it gives him motivation to go even harder.

“Since I was little, I’ve always been the smallest and I wanted to prove myself [because of it],” Dennis said. “I just got so much heart and passion and I just play with that off-the-court and on-the-court, and I just use all my heart and that will always put me over the top.”

In addition, one thing that makes Dennis even more special is the fact that he is a winner.

“Since high school I’ve been winning championships,” Dennis said. “I won my high school state championship my senior year. My first year here we won the Sun Belt Championship. Then my second year here, we won the Sun Belt championship again and went on to the NCAA tournament. All I know is winning and I’m just a winner.”

With the heart and passion for the game, and being a winner is what makes Dennis so special.

Dennis’ Future Expectations

As mentioned earlier, Dennis will be starting for the rest of the season at point guard. The Panthers are coming off their biggest upset in school history in the NCAA tournament against Baylor. So what are his expectations for this season?

“Make it back to the NCAA tournament and win more than one game and go far,” Dennis said. “And prove we are just as good as a team as we were last year.”

The Panthers have lost some key players from last year coming into the season such as RJ Hunter, Ryan Harrow, Curtis Washington, and Ryann Green. However Dennis believes the team has actually gotten even better.

“We lost pieces, but we got so many with Isaiah Williams, Jeff Thomas, and Jeremy Hollowell,” Dennis said. “Jeremy looks real good [on the court]. Jeff looks good too and his shots are going to fall. Isaiah Williams is going to be a great player for us. We got so many weapons, I think we got more weapons than we did last year. I think we’re going to be really good.”

Dennis is set to lead the Panthers to a third consecutive Sun Belt title and show fans he’s capable of being more than just an athletic guard.