Written by: Drew Johnson (@RealNews102)
Those who are tuned into the hoop scene in Polk County know that Winter Haven Basketball has set the tone for the past few years. The Blue Devils were just one win away from a Class 7A state championship trophy last season.
Winter Haven’s 2024 Isaac Celiscar has been a pivotal contributor to his team and community throughout the journey. Despite losing a few production players, the recent Yale University commit said he is determined and fueled to give back to his city the hardware of a state championship before heading off to the next level.
“Winter Haven and just the community around it is great,” Celiscar said. “I’ve been here my entire 18 years and it’s been all love. The least I can do as a member of the community or player on the team is do whatever I can to bring back a state championship to the community.”
The brother of two older college football players and a former boxer, Celiscar has been exposed to success at some of the highest levels of competition. With both parents originally from the perilous country of Haiti, it has only pushed him to be great and live up to his last name But also to carve his own legacy.
“Having them in my life just pushed me to be better,” Celiscar said. “I just always wanted to live up to my last name “Celiscar”. Everybody hears that name and assumes something great is going on. I was really tired of getting called the little brother. I wanted to make a name for myself. But having them be able to push me while they were here and watching them grow just really pushed me to want to be great.”
When reviewing the 2023-2024 season ahead, it’s clear Winter Haven is one of the top teams in the state but lost some production from current Division 1 players Kjei Parker (FAMU) and Dylan James (Georgia). (The team is off to a 3-1 start)
Still, Celiscar is confident that the returning Blue Devils squad which includes another talented senior Jamie Phillips Jr. will be back in championship contention. Celiscar said the two have known each other since kindergarten but it was joining the Hoops Haven league that has helped gel their chemistry on the court.
“JP man that’s been my boy since kindergarten,” Celiscar said. “We really go way back, we were in the same class. From there it’s just been a good relationship. He had left my elementary school but in 4th grade, I joined the Hoops Haven league which he was already playing in. We just connected from there again and gelled back together. Playing with him on the court, we’ve been playing together our whole lives. This year probably being our last year together we’re just trying to do it big and win a state championship together.”
When breaking down Celiscar’s game and film, you quickly realize this kid is a rebounding magnet and a potential double-double machine because of his 6-6 frame combined with long arms and an athletic build. It’s his versatility on the basketball court that makes him an intriguing prospect.
The frame helps him score at will and defend multiple positions. On the defensive side of the ball, he has displayed good anticipation skills in the passing lane resulting in steals where he finishes strong at the basket. He also crashes the boards and can rack up offensive and defensive rebounds.
Celiscar shared his thoughts on what he can provide at the next level and things he does to work on his game off the court:
“Myself as a player, I think I’m just a hard worker. I can play 1-4. I can play Point, Shooting Guard, and Small, just a versatile player who will do whatever the coach wants me to do to win. You need me to take out the best player, I’ll take him out. You need me to go out there and score and get 15 rebounds, I’ll get it. And off the court, it’s just a whole lot of grinding. I try not to stay in the house a lot because I don’t do much but push-ups and sit-ups just any work I can get in around the house. Outside the house, I like to work on the fields, hit the weight room to get stronger and get my body in shape, eat the right things, and stretch a lot.
Celiscar shares his recruiting journey:
“My recruiting process started in the 8th grade. I was sleeping and woke up to a missed call from my AAU coach. He was like, “A coach is going to call you and said to let him know how it went. Then I got an offer from Siena University. From there I was like wow I’m really good enough I know I can do this.”
Thoughts on relationship and joining Yale University:
“I feel like God wanted this for me. I had other choices but I really feel like Yale is my school because I got along with the teammates and the coaches. I love the atmosphere I was around and then you have to think long term. The ball is going to stop bouncing one day, so with a Yale degree, I can do anything. Of course, it’s not going to be easy. At the end of the day, it’s going to be hard but I feel I’m built for it.”
*Drew’s Fast Five*:
Favorite Basketball Player ALL TIME: Lebron James
Favorite PreGame song: Dreams and Nightmares (Meek Mill)
Favorite post-game meal: Zaxbys
Favorite movie or T.V. show: Love & Basketball
What’s your Best skill on the court: Rebounding
A well-spoken young man with the right confidence and humbleness to lead a program. He wrapped up his interview with thanks to his family and others who have helped him along the way.
“First off you got to thank the man above, God first because he’s the one that makes things happen for you,” Celiscar said. “I thank my parents for all their sacrifices and my brothers and sisters for all their sacrifices for me just to be put in this situation. Thank all my coaches who have trained me and coached me along the way.”