It was the sectional final this spring. His team fell behind 30-11 midway through the second quarter. Isaiah Briscoe stepped forward.
"Declared, 'Just get me the ball and I'll get us to halftime,'" his high school coach, Dave Boff, recalled. "'Just get me the ball and I'll make sure we're within 10 at halftime.'"
The crowded hour, as Theodore Roosevelt liked to call life's decisive moments, was Briscoe's time to excel. He steadied his team by scoring its final 12 points of the half, then led Roselle Catholic High School to a come-from-behind victory.
That's why Boff calls Briscoe "the best leader I've ever coached."
Kentucky adds this can-do player next season. But, first, Briscoe is hoping to play for USA Basketball's team in the U19 World Championship this summer. He was among 16 players who survived the first cut, which was announced Monday. The final roster of 12 players is expected to be decided by Wednesday. The FIBA U19 World Championship will be played June 27 through July 5 in Greece.
"Just being myself," he said of making the first cut. "Just playing my game."
Briscoe, who USA Basketball lists at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, defined that game as "just an all-around guard that can pretty much do everything." In case the person on the other end of Tuesday's telephone call didn't understand, he added, "I can do everything."
International competition is nothing new for Briscoe. He was part of the USA U18 National Team that won the FIBA Americas U18 Championship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs last year. He averaged 20.4 minutes, 8.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Briscoe also played for the USA team in the Nike Hoop Summit in April. He scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds, made three steals and got credit for nine assists in less than 20 minutes of play.
"He's the hardest worker," Boff said when asked about Briscoe's leadership qualities. "The difference between him and other kids I've had is he also demands it of his teammates."
The story of how Briscoe made himself a top player is well known. A chubby shooting guard when he began high school in Union, N.J., he trained as a boxer (no actual fights; he just wanted to improve his conditioning and hand speed). He did yoga to become more flexible. He pedaled in "spin" classes to improve his endurance. He did basketball drills at 6 a.m. before going to school.
He also gained a reputation as a player with plenty of "swag." When asked about Briscoe's swagger, Boff chuckled and said, "Well, he certainly doesn't lack confidence. That's for sure."
Fellow McDonald's All-Americans voted Briscoe the most prolific "trash talker" in a group not known for harboring shrinking violets.
"I just like competing," Briscoe said. "Whatever it takes to compete, I'm going to do it."
Kentucky only became involved in recruiting Briscoe in his senior year. He had been seriously considering Arizona, Connecticut and Syracuse. UK Coach John Calipari needed no introduction.
"I've been watching Kentucky for a long time," Briscoe said. "I love the way he lets his guards play. I just wanted to be next up as a great Kentucky guard."
Briscoe will be joining a Kentucky team with an experienced college point guard: Tyler Ulis. The idea of two point guards on the floor might seem problematic, except John Wall and Eric Bledsoe showed in the 2009-10 season how blissful this kind of coexistence can be.
Briscoe is familiar with UK's Wall-Bledsoe tandem. "Very familiar," he said.
Of himself and Ulis, Briscoe said, "We are two good point guards, and I think it can work. If you have a group of great players, I think anything is possible."