The University of Maine men’s basketball team added a phenomenal talent this year in first-year forward Issac Vann, a native of Bridgeport, Conn.
Vann is already making a huge impact this season for the Black Bears as he is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 14.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. He is also extremely effective shooting the ball from all over the floor converting on 48 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point territory and 78 percent at the charity stripe.
Vann attended Bunnell High School in Stratford, Conn. where he led his team to two South Western Conference championships and made the all-tournament team twice. He netted 1,486 career points throughout his career with Bunnell and earned All-State McDonald’s All-American honors twice and was also named a Hartford Courant top-10 player for the state of Connecticut his senior year. After Vann’s spectacular career at Bunnell he did a year at Coastal Academy for prep school before coming to play here at the University of Maine.
Vann credits his dedication to the game, his AAU coach and his mother for the quick adjustment from high school to Division I basketball.
“Just trying to work hard every day, taking care of my body. I put in a lot of work, put up extra shots and workout consistently. My mom and my AAU coach are always on me trying to get me to work harder. I work out with my AAU coach at home, he played college basketball and professionally overseas so he has a lot of experience with the game,” Vann said.
It was an easy decision for Vann to make on coming to play basketball here for the Black Bears. He was very encouraged by the commitment he saw from Head Coach Bob Walsh and his staff. He also knew he could be an impact player all four years.
“Coach Walsh and the rest of the coaching staff were recruiting me the hardest out of high school. They went to my games and practices when I was at prep school. And having a chance to have an immediate impact on this team because we are rebuilding right now so I knew I could make an impact,” Vann said.
Aside from being such a great talent on the floor, he is very coachable, easy going and goes about improving his game the right way according to his teammates and coaches.
“Coaching Issac is great fun every day because he is focused, stays quiet and goes about his job. He’s got a great desire to improve, which you are looking for in all of your players. He wants to get better. That, combined with his natural ability and his composure makes him special,” Walsh said.
“Issac has been a great addition to our team on the court and in the locker room. He is a fun, easy going guy and has fit in perfectly,” teammate and third-year forward Marko Pirovic said.
Though the team may not have the best record as of right now at 8-13, the future looks bright for Vann and the Black Bears. The majority of the team is comprised of underclassmen and about half of the team is freshman. He is confident that things are going to get better in years to come with the youth on their side.
“We definitely have a talented group of young guys, I feel like next year we will be way better once we get the chemistry up and we could go deep in the conference tournament and hopefully make the NCAA tournament,” Vann said, as far as his future goals go.
Growing up, Vann’s greatest influence was his mother. His mother was always there to support him the best she could despite going through some hard times when Vann was growing up. It was just the two of them living together and they had to overcome some adversity.
“My mom, definitely my mom because growing up it was always just me and my mom. She struggled a lot so I just want to make her proud. I try to push myself to work hard everyday and will do what I have to do to make her proud,” Vann said.
It’s safe to say that Vann has made his mother proud thus far in his freshman year campaign at UMaine. He has been performing on and off the court at an extremely high level, and the Black Bears have inherited a special young talent for years to come. The future looks promising for Vann and the young Black Bears squad.