The Raptors Have Interviewed Canadian Isiaha Mike Who is Hoping to Take an Unconventional Path to the NBA

Aaron Rose

With just over one month before the NBA’s November 18 Draft, basketball prospects across the continent are doing everything in their power to impress NBA front offices. It’s cramming time for these young men, time to ramp up their shooting regiments, spend some extra time in the weight room, and make sure everything is in order for the tests they’ll be put through throughout the month.

That’s traditionally how the months before the draft work. But not for Canadian Isiaha Mike who has decided to take a very different path to the pros. Instead of refining his skills at home doing one-on-one drills, the 6-foot-8, Scarborough native out of Southern Methodist University has decided to uproot his life and move to Germany, signing a contract to play this year with Niners Chemnitz of the German Bundesliga.

“It gave me the best opportunity not only to expand my game but showcase my game at another level,” Mike said.

It’s an unconventional decision for the 23-year-old Mike who has entered his name in the 2020 NBA draft class but still has an option to back out and enter the draft next season if he chooses. If he does get selected this year, Mike said he’ll have to fulfill his European contract before coming over to the NBA, likely for the start of the 2021-22 NBA season.

That’s what makes him a potentially interesting selection for the Toronto Raptors. It makes some sense for the Raptors to draft an international player with their second round pick, No. 59 overall, and stash him overseas for the year in order to free up cap space. Yet even if he slips out of the draft, Mike said he had a surreal interview with the Raptors, and considering Toronto’s ability to develop athletic forwards, he said playing for the Raptors certainly interests him.

“To actually be in contact with them was amazing," he said. "Seeing their resume and seeing how Pascal [Siakam] has developed tremendously on his way to becoming a superstar. You have guys like Fred VanVleet, you have OG [Anunoby], you’ve got [Terence] Davis, you’ve got [Chris] Boucher, almost their entire roster, the guys that came from that G-League team have put in the work and made a name for themselves."

As a prospect, Mike projects as an athletic 3-and-D forward, according to Canadian basketball scout Wesley Brown. He averaged 14 points and 6.3 rebounds with 48.1% shooting and 37.7% 3-point shooting as a redshirt junior last season.

“His shooting, especially in catch-and-shoot situations really improved over his college career. He’s able to make some good reads, but he’s not a natural break down guy, more of a set, catch-and-shoot and defensive guy,” Brown said. “He’s a very good athlete. I saw him live and he actually broke a rim at a run I was at, so he has elite elevation.”

These days instead of focusing on just one area of his game, trying to refine one or two specific skills, Mike said he's training everything all while going up against grown men in preseason games overseas ahead of the Bundesliga's November start.

"I’ve always learned best playing in games," he said. "You can only do so much drilling, going one-on-one, one-on-zero, just fine-tuning your skills by yourself, but adding the fatigue aspect, cardio, actually playing up and down, knowing what’s a foul and what’s not, playing against defensive schemes, there’s just a lot, seeing a lot, learning a lot and just getting that mental edge as far as learning the new things that come with the program."

The competition overseas is a significant step up from his former days in the American Athletic Conference opponents, he said.

Now, having shown he can succeed at the collegiate level, Mike is hoping to prove he can do it against grown men and impress NBA scouts at the next level, even if it is a little different.

"One thing that I’ve learned, wherever you are in the world, they’ll come and find you," he said.