Updated: Jul 9, 2020
With some key returnees and an impressive recruiting haul, Stanford will be among the teams to watch during the 2020-21 basketball season. They bring in McDonald’s All-American, Ziaire Williams, and other promising talent into Palo Alto. Looking even further into the future, they have already acquired the services of one of the top point guard prospects in the high school class of 2021, Isael “Isa” Silva, who hopes to continue the McDonald’s All-American streak at Stanford.
Silva is a dynamic ball handler, creative passer and has the ability to get to the paint to finish or kick it out to teammates. He has made strides in terms of his strength, has good defensive awareness and uses his length to his advantage on close-outs. He projects as a PG, but self-identifies as a ‘hooper’ above all else and is seemingly comfortable both on and off the ball. Before committing to Stanford, Silva also had Arizona, Gonzaga, Texas, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, and Xavier vying for his services.
With an option to possibly play for the United States or Mexico, Silva shared with Pro Insight that he has his eyes set on playing for either side in the 2021 Nike Hoop Summit. Starring for Jesuit HS (CA), he also played major minutes last summer for the Compton Magic and was one of the top standouts at the Pangos All-American Camp last spring, featuring some of the best high school prospects in the country. With his combination of work ethic, intelligence on and off the court, and his strong family values, Silva has the makings of an incredible building block for Stanford’s future.
In this interview, Silva gives a detailed family background, some context surrounding his love for the game of basketball, how his committing to Stanford may have proved a doubter wrong, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2021 prospect Isa Silva, from Sacramento, California:
Pro Insight: Talk a little bit about yourself — what’s your background? What’s your family like?
Isa Silva: My name is Isa — well, my full name is Isael Silva. I’m 17 years old, Mexican-American. Born in Berkeley, California, grew up most of my life in Sacramento. Dad and mom, I live with both of them half and half, a couple days and a couple days. I have one step-mom and step-sister on my dad’s side and then a step-dad and three step-siblings on that side [mom’s], but I don’t have any blood brothers or sisters. Dad is the youngest of seven [children] and mom is the middle child of three [children]. I go to Jesuit High School, I’ve been there since my freshman year and most of my middle and elementary school I went to Country Day which is a small little private school in Sacramento. Grew up playing with a team called 916 Select and then Team Lillard, and Play Hard Play Smart; in my high school days I’ve been playing with Compton Magic — that’s a pretty good basis on my basketball and family aspects.
PI: Did your parents or step-siblings play sports?
IS: My dad played high school ball, he was going to go play DII basketball, had some DII offers and letters, then he got hurt going onto campus his freshman year of college so he never really got to play after that. I think he kind of rekindled his passion of the game through me and now he’s like my best friend and we make decisions together as one — he always has my best interest and he’s always been really good at supporting me. You see a lot of parents getting enthralled with all the agents, runners and money that come with basketball. He’s taught me to stay level headed and I’m lucky to have had him in my corner, as my “basketball dad.” My mom played basketball all four years of high school — played varsity all four years — and then she went to UC Santa Cruz. Now she’s a lobbyist, she owns her own firm. She’s just a grinder, a worker, she just supports me so much and I tell people that’s where I get my little edge from...it’s from both of them, but my mom is not afraid to show it. My uncle is a coach, my dad’s side of the family is really into basketball — my uncle is a coach and an athletic director at a high school in Salinas. His son is my cousin, and my godfather, so he’s probably one of my closest cousins...he’s actually kind of on staff at Stanford, he’s a student manager there so he’ll be there when I’m there. We always wanted to go to college together so having him on staff is pretty cool. Yeah man, I’ll my cousins I’m pretty close to, I have a really good relationship with them and basketball is really prevalent on that side. So is the University [Stanford] — my aunt went to Stanford, I have two cousins that are there now, one cousin just got accepted and decided he’s going there, and then two of my other cousins got their master’s from Stanford so there’s a lot of family. My dad’s family is from Salinas, which is pretty close to Stanford; mom’s family is from Colusa, which is by a small little city called Turlock in Northern California.
PI: Did you grow up playing any other sports?
IS: I did grow up playing other sports and I think my dad always wanted me to play basketball...he tells me he did, but he helped and they both helped me find whatever I loved and my passion ended up being basketball. My passion was basketball, but I grew up playing baseball until I was like seven [years old] and I played all the way up until sixth grade, then I stopped playing because I just didn’t like it. So ever since sixth grade I just focused and put all of my energy into basketball.
PI: What made you fall in love with basketball?
IS: I think I always kind of had a natural [feel], something just flowed from me when I played, like it was something that I worked really really hard at and it was something that I pushed myself at and it was really easy for me to just like [play]. That’s what I could do all day...like, I couldn’t eat, I could just stay outside and play. I had that feeling in sixth grade and I told my dad, “I want to be the best player ever.” That’s always been what I’ve thought and I think if you think that way and you know, I’ve always had a strong connection with God, so I think he gave me an ability to express myself through an art form of basketball — that’s how I like to look at it. Through that art, hopefully I get to inspire a lot of kids and help them find their passions, whether it’s drawing, race car driving, or whatever they want to do as long as they love it...that’s what we're supposed to do as humans.
PI: For those who aren’t super familiar with your game, what are some of your greatest strengths?
IS: I think the one that stood out in my high school days and one that has kind of propelled me to where I’m at now is my passing. I never really grew up being a passer...I grew up running corner to corner to catch and shoot — like my job was to hit threes, to be kind of like a Kyle Korver. In sixth grade my dad was like, “look son, you want to reach your goals we got to develop PG skills,” so I remember doing the same ball-handling drills every day. I would get really frustrated, like I was crying growing up like “man this stuff is boring,” but eventually I learned how to really embrace the basics and not get bored with them and I think that’s something that’s important. So that helped me have an all-around game. I think now the next step for me is just being able to shoot consistently while being the man out there that’s setting everything up. When I play off the ball my numbers are really good and then when I play on the ball I haven’t found that balance yet of where I can do it consistently. We’ve just been working on my shot, especially my follow-through, same shot same flick of the wrist and just stuff that I did when I was a kid so I think eventually it’s going to start coming together and you know, some stuff will probably get weaker and I’ll have to strengthen that and I think it’s just a battle of working on your strengths and weaknesses.
PI: What about some things you still need to work on?
IS: Yeah I think that shooting while being the [floor] general in a way...a lot has to do with discipline, you know, like pulling your hand back or something just because you’re feeling a little swaggy that day. You might get a little energy and that might change the way you shoot, but that’s probably the most important time when you got to go back to like catch it, don’t dip the ball, get right to your spot, and hold your follow through. Like it sounds boring and robotic, but over time once you start mastering that, master that in games and you turn into the Stephs and Klays because they put so much time in and it’s intentional...so that’s what we talk about is putting in intentional work. You can go out and shoot on the machine for like three hours, but that’s not going to do you good if you’re picking up bad habits. I think in high school, this last high school season and the one before I played really well, but I think I picked up bad habits shooting-wise because you know, you go from playing the top players in the country to playing locally and it’s harder to push yourself and stay disciplined with what you work on. So that’s what I’m working on now and that’s what I’m going to continue to work on until I get better at it. Just getting stronger, after the season, me and my weight trainer — even still this week we meet Monday, Wednesday, Friday — and we go in the garage and we’ve just been working on quick-twitch muscles, trying to get off the ground quick and getting some weight on me. I think I’ve put on like 11 pounds since after the season and making sure I’m durable for college and NBA basketball.
PI: Wow, 11 pounds? Can you feel a difference?
IS: Yeah I’m not going to gas it up too much, like it might not be 11 — I think I was 174 and now I’m like 181-186, so I think it’s just maintaining it. I feel good, like sturdy, not taking bumps has been helping a lot I think. I miss playing against people, but at the same time that’s a lot of contact with your joints and muscles. I think for someone like me, something I need to work on is listening to my body. I’m not really good at listening to my body. I’m good at taking care of it, doing like pre-injury stuff, preventing injury, and going to get treatment in the morning before school, but I need to listen to my body better and this time has forced me to do that.
PI: What do you mean by listen to your body?
IS: Well I think like getting back to what I was saying about being intentional — if my hamstring hurts and the top of my quads and my quad is pulling on my knee and I go shoot, is that productive work or is that just going out there because you think that’s working hard? Like why not just sit, ice your knees, visualize, and meditate? I’m real big on that, like being mindful, so just getting better at that...forcing work is not the way to go I think. You got to be smart, so maybe stay in and watch film that day and wake up early the next morning and go shoot, maybe you’ll feel better.
PI: Do you meditate regularly?
IS: You know, my meditation with COVID-19, to be honest, hasn’t been like it usually was...so I’m trying to get back and getting in at least 10 minutes per day where I’m just being really mindful and visualizing. I do a lot of shot visualization, just thinking about it and being present and in the flow so that’s something I want to get my routine back, but I definitely do that [meditate].
PI: When did you start meditating and how has it helped your game?
IS: I started it my freshman year — going into my freshman year I worked with one of my mentors, he’s like family to me, his name is Drew Peterson — he worked in the WNBA and has done some scouting for the Minnesota Timberwolves. We zoom every couple weeks and he kind of put me onto that [meditating] and we’ve just been doing it a while. The cool thing with us is we’re preparing for stuff people don’t see — like we’re preparing for getting your second contract in the NBA, like maintaining that, that’s all mental. At some point with the physical you’re going to meet your match...someone who is just bigger or stronger, then it’s all about how much you’ve trained your mind up to that point and I think that’s what separates the greats — the people in the top-10 discussions from the other hall of famers. There’s levels to mindfulness and meditation and I’m just trying to climb that as fast as I can.
PI: What would you say is most underrated about your game?
IS: I want to say it’s a little bit of shooting because I don’t know if everybody knows how well I can shoot. I’ve had really good showings, I’ve had solid showings and I’ve had not-so-great showings. Being consistent with the way I shoot, trusting myself, and being disciplined is something. Also, I think strength, just passing the eye test, you know, they see a little long-armed Mexican-American-looking white kid and they’re like “oh he might not be strong,” but I put a lot of time into the weight room. It’s just getting like all the other muscles that we need, that’s what we’ve been working on, making sure that it’s not even an issue. I think when NBA and other scouts look at it, it’s like “can you guard? Who can you defend?” So being able to take those bumps and then flying to a different city, staying in a hotel, and then you got a game the next day where you’re taking bumps again...that’s what you have to prepare your body for, so I’m just doing that as much as possible.
PI: What’s your training schedule like? What are you doing now to try and prepare for next season?
IS: So Monday, Wednesday, Friday I’m lucky enough to have my weight trainer come in from my school — he has a bunch of equipment, we’re really close...he’s probably like the closest coach I have at my school. We’ve just been really smart about what we’re doing, making sure we stretch more. It’s a really good time to attack your body because you’re not playing games, so we’ll do that those days. Tuesday and Thursday I’ll try to get a jumping workout in with one of my basketball trainer’s friends who is a track athlete — he’s really good. I’ll try to do cardio those days, as well...just get on the bike, I think we’re not going to play for [a while], hopefully towards summer we’ll play next, but that’s still a ways away, so making sure you’re on top of that. Then pretty much every day me and my dad have been doing a floater and shooting workout. It’s 10 floaters in a row from the middle of the paint, 10 in a row with your right hand and 10 with your left hand; then, it’s right side two feet [floaters], left side two feet, right side one foot, left side one foot, and then right side right foot going opposite and the same thing on the left side; then down the middle and then we just get into shooting. We start with form, then we get into mid-range, and threes. Doing some situational calls, so he’ll call a number and it’s a pull-up, he’ll call a different number and it’s a three-point shot. Then I’m doing the same thing with my basketball trainer who is like part of my family — we’ll either do zoom calls or he might come sometimes depending on how he’s feeling. Just trying to stay as safe as possible during this time.
PI: Out of all the guys you matched up with this year, who was the toughest?
IS: Well the Pangos All-American camp had pretty much everybody. Cade Cunningham was probably the most impressive player I’ve seen all of last year, he was really good. Makur Maker was pretty good, he’s versatile. Let’s see, RJ Davis — played against RJ Davis, he’s pretty good, I like his game. Those are the ones I can think of now. Terrence Clarke was on my team — he’s nice — he’s good.
PI: Three years down, one to go. What are your main goals you want to accomplish before your high school career is over?
IS: I’m pretty set on winning a section championship and winning a state championship. I think I learned a lot from my first three years: just ups and downs, and getting better at different aspects each year. I think it’s time to put it all together. Man, that losing stuff, I can’t stand it, so it’s going to force me to work and really focus. I’m excited to be part of a program where I can just focus on the team and focus on winning and helping elevate them. I think that’s important and just helping the culture of the school. Bringing a trophy to the gym...having been there and just leaving my mark.
PI: What are some of your long term goals?
IS: I want to win a state championship next year high school-wise. I just want to get so much better and whatever comes with that to be honest. A McDonald’s All-American — that’s always something that I’ve wanted to do — I’ve always watched those games growing up. It’s important to me, I also realize if you don’t play in the game it doesn’t really mean much, but it’s definitely up there. I think representing the country, representing the USA whether that’s in a minicamp or Hoop Summit has always been a goal of mine. Also Mexico, I’ve had a chance to do those, so hopefully I can go and do that. Just getting to Stanford, making an impact, and winning — winning right away — not just the PAC-12 championship, but I want to be greedy and go get a national championship and make Stanford a place where kids want to go. Not just scholars, but where athletes and basketball players are like “man I want to go to Stanford.” To play in the NBA, not just play a couple games or play a couple seasons, like just make my mark in the NBA — playing in the NBA as long as possible and staying healthy. You can’t do any of that stuff if you’re not healthy, so just taking care of my body, eating right, and keeping a good relationship with God — those are all my goals.
PI: Why do you wear #1? Is there a story behind that?
IS: There’s not really a story behind it to be honest. I got it my freshman year, you know I was a freshman so I didn’t get to choose first. I actually wore it growing up a couple times, but when I went to middle school I didn’t even get to choose my number, I don’t know how it happened, but I felt kind of disrespected...like I don’t know what it was, me being a little stubborn brat, but I was like “okay, I don’t get to choose my number?” So I just chose #1 because I’m going to make sure I’m going to be the top, the best, that’s why I’m going to wear it so you guys know what I’m about and what I’m going to work towards. So that’s probably why I wear it.
PI: At what point did your game start to take off and you started getting college interest?
IS: I think towards playoffs in my freshman year. I kind of had an up and down freshman year: I hit the freshman slump a little bit during league, but once playoffs hit I was averaging like 19-20 [points]. That momentum carried me to April, so my freshman year I got my first offer to Montana and I remember how happy that made me feel. Then Pangos camp going into my sophomore year, that fall was the Frosh-Soph camp and I remember me and my dad went in there and me and Drew, my mentor, we were just talking and when we go into those things we set no expectations, don’t expect anything of yourself, just go hoop. I ended up playing really well and came away the most outstanding player at the camp, top-three with some other good players. I think I was like second in the camp with Devin Askew [Kentucky commit] who I grew up with and I’m really close with him...but him, me, Pop Pop (Richard) Issacs Jr. from Wasatch Academy and I forgot who else, but that kind of projected me onto the California scale I think, like “okay, he’s here.” Then going into my sophomore season I played well, I averaged like 22 [points] and then had a good spring with Compton Magic — that’s when I started picking up some mid-major DI offers like Fresno State and Santa Clara. Then I played in the Magic Memorial weekend, which is the Adidas event we have, and I played terrible and there were some scouts and writers there. Then four days after that we went to the Pangos All-American camp and I went into that weekend with the same approach, like “no expectations, go be yourself, you know what to do, you’ve worked for this so there’s nothing to worry about,” but I don’t think anybody expected me to do what I did at that camp...going in with those guys and ending up like top-five in the camp...having like 17 assists in the third game, people were like “who is this kid?” NBA scouts like the Pacers were in there, it was wild. My dad was there and he was overwhelmed, everybody was trying to identify him like “oh shit, is that Isa’s dad?” But I think that moment kind of pushed it to the national scale. Then I played in Alabama and picked up [more offers], Stanford offered me that June and in Alabama I picked up more offers from like Arizona, Vanderbilt, USC — they all came that summer. Then I played my junior year, picked up some more [offers] during that and now we’re waiting until I get on the court again, we’re going to see what happens! I’m excited. Hopefully I can make that push into a new category like ‘best PG,’ or ‘best player in the country’ — there’s always levels — there’s never going to stop being levels. It’s something you have to work towards, knowing like even if you’re number-one, that doesn’t mean anything...that’s just someone’s opinion of you. It’s about getting better and knowing you’re getting better.
PI: What were some things you were looking for in a school and what made Stanford your school of choice?
IS: A family environment was really important to me. Someone who is going to value me for who I am and I think that’s what family does — someone who values what you bring to the table. I think Stanford has seen me enough — they’ve seen me play since I was an eighth grader. They’ve seen me score 30 [points] on all threes and then they’ve seen me have games where I shoot horrifically, but pass it really well. I think they know what I’m capable of and they appreciate how hard I work, I don’t know if any of the other schools knew me like that and for Stanford to come in and offer me and tell me that when they want people to think of Stanford, they want people to think of Isa Silva, that just blew me away. Being on the visit I tried to discern as best as possible how genuine they were and all the coaching staff really loves me and you can tell they care and they’re willing to struggle and succeed with me and I think that’s important when choosing a school. Every school is going to love you when you’re going for 20 and 10, but what happens when you have that game where you have 6 and 2? I think they’re going to be with me through that — that’s what I look for — and someone who is going to appreciate my dreams. That’s important, like when I thought of Stanford I was like, “Stanford, okay, it’s the best school in the world, of course I want to go there...but basketball-wise is this the best decision for me?” I kind of put all the school stuff aside and left that for my parents to worry about, and I was like “what’s the best basketball school that’s going to help me get to the NBA, where I can win and help elevate the program?” and that was Stanford.
PI: What type of system best fits your playing style? How do you fit in with Stanford?
IS: They’re actually one of my favorite playing styles to watch on Synergy — just watching clips of them, they’re really fast-paced and they’re trying to play faster. I think when the game is flowing I excel. When it’s stationary, just a block-mover — I’m not calling out any schools —I'm just saying when it’s something kind of box-oriented I think it makes it harder for a creative player who loves to play in the flow. Stanford runs a lot of pick-and-roll, DHO, and I think that’s something we can all eat off of — whether it’s me, the roller, the guy trailing or circling — it’s just a fun offense. Then defensively, they’re one of the best in the country — I don’t know what their rating is, but I think we’re top-10 in the country in defense. I like the way they play defense...everybody has each other’s back, like I don’t want to call it risky, but they just trust their instincts, it’s an instinct type of defense. If someone slips then someone has your back and if they don’t slip then they’re already up the court before the other team can get back. I’m excited, I’m going to keep watching and studying it so right when I get there it’s an easy adjustment and an easy way to get in.
PI: What would you major in at Stanford?
IS: I don’t know — I always joke around and say ‘basketball,’ but sports management is something I really like. I want to be a coach or an agent...I want to be in basketball until I’m in a wheelchair...like that’s what I want to do the rest of my life. I like fashion design too, I’m really into that. I think producing things is really fun, putting stuff together, and bringing people together. You can do that with basketball and you can do that with graphic or fashion design, so maybe minor in that and major in sports management and business.
PI: PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball? What are you looking for and what are your biggest takeaways when you watch?
IS: I like watching both. This year I think college PG-wise, I thought it was good, but I didn’t think it was a plethora where I could just be on Synergy watching a lot of people. Because of what I like to see, you have to have balance, skill — that could be passing, dribbling, shooting — and fluidity...those three are what I look for when I watch film. If I’m going to watch film on a guy, they probably have at least two of the three, if not all three [traits]. That’s something my mentor taught me to look for. This year, I liked watching Payton Pritchard, Tyrell Terry and Nico Mannion. Jordan Ford from St. Mary’s, too — I grew up playing with him so that’s like my brother, so of course I’m going to say him...but yeah, just watching them because they all have at least two of the three. In the NBA, Luka [Doncic], he’s insane; James Harden, Trae Young, his pick-and-roll reads...he gets so low and his touch is insane; LaMelo Ball is pretty fluid, skilled, and he’s pretty balanced. So those are the ones I’ve been watching this year.
PI: College or pro, current or former player – do you model your game after anyone?
IS: I like taking stuff from different people. Steve Nash is probably my favorite one — when people compare me to somebody that’s my favorite one. I get the Ricky Rubio one, obviously that’s a compliment, he’s making millions playing the game he loves so I’m never going to complain about it — I just don’t know if that’s my playing style in terms of the other stuff. I like Steve Nash, Steph [Curry], Trae Young, Jeff Teague...I always surprise people with that one...his pace, people are always like, “Isa, what are you talking about?” but I think his pace is off the charts. His change of speed is crazy, he plays off the push crossover really well and he’s been in the league forever so that’s telling you something. I’d say those guys.
PI: Which would you say you rely on more — your natural talent or your work ethic?
IS: I think it’s both. I think everybody has natural talent, that’s not going to take you to where you’re at, but I think work ethic for sure. If I didn’t work I don’t think I’d be in this position or sitting here talking to you — I’d just be a high school player. I think sometimes natural talent can be wasted, but you just have to really appreciate it and I like to do both. I think not reliant, but trusting your work ethic, and then when you get in the game, believing in your natural talent that you’ve enhanced because of your work ethic.
PI: Which position do you view yourself as?
IS: I mean I think a PG, but I like to say ‘a hooper.’ Clarifying, I’d probably say PG if you’re going to put me in a position, but just being a hooper, I mean we’re all hoopers. If you think about LeBron [James], is he really a PG or is he just a hooper? Draymond Green — is he a PG or just a hooper? He does what PGs do, but he’s a small forward, so I think just being a hooper and a winner. Probably a PG — I’ll take it.
PI: Please explain what Isa Silva brings to a team, regardless of the situation.
IS: I think, like an unapologetic way of going about my work...just a little swagger that’s not really going to be bothered by anything and it’s going to adapt. It might take a little bit, but no matter what program or wherever I’m at, being able to adapt is one of my strengths. Bringing people together, bringing a team together, and if you have the right people and you bring them all together it’s like a puzzle, it’s going to look nice and produce. Someone who is going to work and just teach, I love teaching people things and when people ask me things I love, I mean you can tell from this interview that I talk a lot...but I think that and just being a hard worker who is going to push you and if you push back then I’m just going to keep pushing. It might get annoying, like “man this guy doesn’t stop talking, this guy doesn’t stop coming at me,” but I think that’s what I bring to a team. You know, a family guy off the court who is going to support you and always root for you and is supportive, someone who is going to win and play his game.
PI: If you weren’t aspiring to play professional basketball, what would you be pursuing?
IS: I’d be a coach — an NBA coach or an NBA scout...maybe an agent, work for an agency. I don’t know if I could be a trainer, that’s a lot of patience for some of these young kids, but maybe an NBA trainer. Something involved in basketball, I could be a ball boy for a team as long it’s involved in basketball.
PI: What Netflix shows are you burning through these days?
IS: Black AF, I just started it, highly recommend it, it’s hilarious. Obviously The Last Dance with Michael Jordan, I watch that. All-American, it’s a great show. I watch Ballers on HBO, it’s also a good show — not for children, but it’s pretty cool. I don’t even really watch shows, but now I’m kind of forced to tune into a few, but I think those.
PI: What would you say are the four websites you visit the most?
IS: Probably Twitter — I don’t have the app, but I do go on Twitter on Safari. YouTube. Probably like a shopping place like The Real Real — it’s a shopping consignment place, you can find some steals and vintage clothing, I go on there. Then probably like Apple Music or some type of music on Safari.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has that stuck with you and what did you learn from it?
IS: This is a crazy story, so I was going into my freshman year, we were eating at a restaurant over here by the house. So we were eating at the restaurant — my dad already knew Coach Pruitt from Stanford, by the way. So my phone rings, and I’m a freshman, so college coaches can’t call me yet, the number doesn’t show and I answer and it was someone acting like they were Coach Pruitt and they were basically telling me this and that about the camp I was just at and about how we won all these games so obviously there was some research or something, like the sounded like they knew what they were talking about — and they told me I had an offer. So I didn’t know any better, I was ecstatic, I was like, “oh my goodness, Stanford just offered me!” My Mom was like “I don’t know, they can’t call you yet,” so they were kind of suspicious. My dad called Coach Pruitt and it ended up being someone was just pranking or messing with me. So for a kid that was disheartening, like really pissed me off...I was like “who has that much hatred to do that to a kid?” I don’t care if you thought it was funny, it just made me so mad. It made me mad for a long time my freshman year — it was always in the back of my head. I was like “what do you need to motivate you? I’m just going to remember this.'' Then I kind of forgot about it and a year went by...I got my first high-major offer at the end of my freshman year from Utah, then sophomore year came and I got the offer from Stanford. I went to the coaches office and Coach Haase is right there, all of the coaches, and they talked to my mom and they offered me and I was like, “man, this is a story I’m going to tell because whoever did that I want them to remember this.” Because, like if you tell me, like I hope someone calls me and is like, “Isa you’ve been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame” because that’s kind of like what it did to me. So, yeah, that’s a crazy story a lot of people don’t know.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
IS: ‘Believe in yourself,’ probably. I don’t know. It sounds cliché or kind of repetitive, but I don’t know how many people actually buy into that. I think that it holds a lot of truth — if you don’t believe in yourself, then you’re not going to do anything. You can’t just say you believe in yourself, like you actually have to believe in the work you put in. Just being humble and kind, I think are things that are going to help your process, if you’re humble and kind, and you work hard, you can do whatever you want. That’s something Damian Lillard actually told me. That’s something I always knew because of my grandparents and mom and dad, but he told me and to hear it from him and being where he’s at — I was on his AAU team, so we connect sometimes — so to hear that from him was pretty next level. To see the way he carries himself, it’s all about being kind and humble and that’s how you make peace and keep the world how it’s supposed to be.
PI: What, or who, would you say is your biggest motivation in life?
IS: My grandparents, parents and family — just seeing how hard they work and what they did, I kind of mentioned it in my commitment video, but they put me in a position to succeed so I’m going to do all I can to succeed and do more and give back to them so none of the Silvas have to worry about anything. Nobody in my family at all is going to have to worry about money...like they work in the fields and I don’t want anybody to do that so I’m going to give back to all my family and back to the communities. People come to the U.S. for a better opportunity and I was given the opportunity — my parents worked hard to make a really good living so I’m going to try and take that as far as I can and make an even better living so I can give back to all of them.
PI: Name 4 words that best describe you.
IS: Passion. Creative. Stubborn. Loving.
PI: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
IS: Honestly, like on a plane coming back to Sacramento, playing at Golden 1 Center, or maybe we’re coming back from a road trip and I play for the Kings...but playing in NBA arenas and knowing how prepared I am and being confident before the games. Having the same mentality going into all of my other games, that I’ve prepared and put so much time in that all of the 30,000 people here are going to see the work I’ve put in and no one is going to leave like, “man he’s not that good.” Everyone is going to be like, “man” with respect. That’s where I see myself, just playing in the NBA.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
IS: That’s the question of the century for everyone, right there! I want to be remembered for being someone who was never afraid to express themselves and love what they want to love and follow what they want to follow. I want to be remembered for inspiring others to chase what they want to chase. I think that’s important — and encouraging people who may not think they have a chance just because of their race, stature, height, social status, or location in the world. I want to inspire all those kids to know that it’s just your family, God, and you. A little 29.5-inch rubber ball is all you need, or whatever — that rubber ball can be a canvas if you’re a painter, that can be anything...but if that’s what you love then take that and the people around you and do whatever you want as long as you’re happy. As long as you love and give to the people around you — I want to encourage people to do that and hopefully I can do that by playing on the bigger stage and touch as many lives as possible through the game I love.
Watch the full interview with Isa, here