Joe Embracing Life's Changes

by Lauren Rosen

Isaiah Joe has never lived outside of Arkansas - and his first move is a big one.

“I love this state to death,” the Fort Smith, Ark. native said the morning after the 76ers chose him 49th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Joe is already thinking of ways to give back to his hometown and home state down the road, but he’s also eager to embrace Philadelphia.

“I’m ready to get out, get a taste of new scenery, try new food, and meet new people. I’m definitely excited for the move.”

That regional relocation comes faster for Joe than it does for most draft picks - with Sixers training camp getting underway in Camden just two weeks after draft night.

But the condensed timeline doesn’t faze Joe. He says he could have been ready to move to Philadelphia the morning after the draft.

“I’m really excited for this opportunity that I’ve been given,” Joe said. “I’m beyond blessed.”

He also believes his on-court skills will be a strong fit.

“This team, they really stress the need for shooters, and that’s me,” Joe said. “I feel like they got the right pick.”

As his pro career begins, Joe is eager to tap into his resources, including his star teammates.

“For me, it’s going to be about going in and trying to learn as much as possible. I want to be the one asking questions, asking the vets how they handle certain situations, what they work on. I want to pick their brains on things, because they’re successful at what they do, and I want to be just as successful as them.” 

It seems like the rookie will be a stellar off-court fit as well.

Joe - like a few of his new teammates - loves video games, and - like his head coach and a few more teammates - is an avid golfer.

“I think in junior high, I was actually better at golf than I was at basketball,” Joe recalls. “But my love for basketball trumped it.”

With help from his father, Derrick, who doubles as his son’s shooting coach, Joe leaned into the sport that has become his career.

“[My dad] can’t shoot, but he’s been a great coach nonetheless!” Joe said with a smile.

But as was the case with his cross-country move, Joe is also excited to embrace a new coach.

Just minutes after getting drafted, Joe received a special FaceTime call.

“I was actually in a media interview at the time... My agent brings the phone to me, and it’s Doc Rivers!” Joe remembers. “A lot of people don’t get to experience things like that, so that’s definitely one for the books.”

From his career, to his soon-to-be coworkers, to his home, there’s a lot of newness in Isaiah Joe’s life - but he’s ready to embrace it all.

“I’m looking forward to the competitive nature, and to the grind that everybody’s been talking about,” Joe said. “I feel like my work ethic is at the top - and now it’s time to see if it’s going to pay off.”

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