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Dream takes Brisco around world

George Whitley

By George Whitley
Feb. 10, 2018 at 9:52 p.m.

Former Pine Tree standout John Brisco is pictured playing pro basketball in Jonava, Lithuania. Brisco has also played professionally in Mexico and China, but still dreams of playing in the NBA.

Adapt, adjust and assimilate might best describe John Brisco. The 24-year-old continues to pursue his dream of a potential NBA career and his travels have taken him literally around the globe.

Since he obtained his diploma from Pine Tree High School in the spring of 2011, Brisco has had stops in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Temple and Houston inside the state, Navolato, Mexico, Atlanta, Georgia, Yue Yang, China and most recently in Lithuania.

Brisco has essentially become the modern-day globetrotter. And through it all, he's been able to enrich his life, broaden his horizons and even gain a fan or two along the way.

"I've had a great time everywhere I've been. It's been an experience everywhere I've played," said Brisco, who was a three-year starter for Rick Dowdle's Pine Tree Pirates from 2008 through 2011.

It was while playing for the Pirates where Brisco learned to adapt and adjust.

"Coach Dowdle transitioned me from a point guard to a shooting guard after my freshman year. I was the leading scorer that year. That's where I gained most of my fundamentals and knowledge of the game. Coach Dowdle taught me how to play the within the game."

Brisco earned first team all-district honors as a sophomore and was also named the district's top newcomer. Brisco continued to add to his trophy case as a junior and senior with back-to-back top offensive scorer awards.

Having been born and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, Brisco, who didn't move to Pine Tree until the ninth grade, gave his verbal to Louisiana Tech right out of high school.

A head coaching change at La Tech reopened the recruiting process for Brisco, and he would eventually play at Northwestern State Louisiana.

"The new coach at LaTech was going to bring in two point guards. I figured I wouldn't fit into their plans. Northwestern had stayed on me pretty tight during the recruiting, so I decided to take a visit. It was my only visit actually," said Brisco.

A preseason injury to Northwestern's senior point guard opened the door for Brisco, and he started in his first game with the Demons as a true freshman. He wound up averaging four points and four assists per game, but eventually relinquished his starting role back to the fifth-year senior.

Brisco opted to transfer after his freshman season at NWU. He headed back to Texas and took the junior college route at Temple. The head coach at Temple, Kirby Johnson, had coached Brisco in 5-Star summer camps while he was at Pine Tree and reached out to him.

It didn't take long for Brisco to make an impact at Temple as he worked up from a sixth man role to starting in just a few games. Brisco's first start resulted in a 32-point game. He followed that with a 44-point eruption his second start.

When Brisco's one season at Temple concluded, he earned first team all conference accolades and left the school second all-time in single-season scoring, trailing only former Longview Lobo and longtime NBA veteran David Wesley.

Interest in Brisco grew after his stellar single season at Temple College and he entertained offers Utah State, Creighton, Oral Roberts and Prairie View A&M. He ultimately decided to stay in Texas and took his talents south to Houston and played two seasons in the SWAC for the Prairie View Panthers.

"I really liked the atmosphere and environment at Prairie View when I went for a visit. The team was going to be built around my talents and that really appealed to me," offered Brisco, who made the switch from point to shooting guard and led the Panthers with a 13.8 average.

Prairie View advanced to the SWAC championship game in both of Brisco's two seasons on campus. The Panthers, however, narrowly missed out on an NCAA tourney berth with narrow losses each time to Texas Southern.

"That was really tough to take," remembered Brisco. "TSU beat us by less than 10 points in the two games combined."

After earning his bachelor's degree in kinesiology at Prairie View, Brisco spent time away from basketball to work on his internship, selling books for the company Southwestern Advantage.

In the summer of 2016, Brisco took part in a rookie camp for the Atlanta Hawks. He was attempting to earn a spot on an NBA summer league roster. When that didn't come to pass, Brisco signed a professional contract to play in Mexico.

Brisco played one season with the Navolato Cane Claws of the Pacific Basketball Circuit based in Navolato, Sinaloa, Mexico.

"I realized after the (Atlanta) camp tryout that I wasn't in the best of shape and that pushed me to go play in another country to build on my playing experience," said Brisco, who led the Cane Claws in both assists and steals his one season.

Brisco would then travel to the Orient and play a 10-week schedule in Yue Yang, China for team Bimini. From there he migrated to Jonava, Lithuania, where he just put the wraps on the 2017 season.

Each stop along the way has been very enlightening for Brisco.

The style of play from Mexico to China to Lithuania varies as much as the cultures of each country.

"This has made me grow as a player in every aspect of my game. I learned how to play quicker and play smarter. The brand of basketball in Lithuania is much more physical in nature as compared to China," explained Brisco. "I feel like I'm in the best basketball shape of my life. I put in six hours a day in the gym, working on repetitions and keeping my pace. I'm not taking any days off."

In the interim, Brisco has hired an agent and plans on playing professionally this summer in Australia. The grand design for the aspiring Brisco is to get another shot at making an NBA summer roster and ultimately an NBA roster.

"I plan on giving it my very best shot and not have any regrets," Brisco said. "I have a plan after basketball and that centers around training and working with young people. We'll see what happens."

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