Spotlight: Ishmail Wainright

ROCKVILLE – Montrose Christian 2013 forward Ishmail Wainright joked that it took him almost four years to whittle his list of college offers down to a manageable number.

On Thursday, Wainright originally broke the news to DMV Elite that he had cut his list to four finalists: Baylor, Ohio State, St. John’s and Texas.

“I went from 30 [schools] down to 20 down to 15 down to 11 to now four,” Wainright said as his teammates went through a preseason workout. “ [I cut] it to four, actually last week. I haven’t really talked to anybody, so nobody really knew.”

The 6-foot-6, 235 pound Wainright - who is headed into his second season at Montrose after transferring in from Missouri - collected offers from some of the nation’s heavyweights, including Duke, Arizona, Syracuse, Kansas and UCLA.

“Ishmail is probably the most highly-recruited player we’ve had since Kevin Durant,” Montrose coach Stu Vetter said. “He has offers from all over the country – some of the biggest names in basketball – and deservedly so; he’s one of the best players in the country. He’s a facilitator and makes everybody else around him better, and he’s going to be an outstanding player for us.“

Wainright verbally committed to Missouri early in his high school career before reopening his recruitment.

“It’s been kind of fun, actually,” he said of the recruiting process. “But at the same time, you’ve got players committing and getting what they need and so everything just falls into place. So, it’s been good.”

Wainright is still recovering after having  surgery on his left foot this summer after playing AAU with Team Takeover, but is quickly rounding into shape. He said he was up to 256 pounds, but has slimmed down by running and eating better.

“I want to get my body down to 230,” he said, “but I might just stay at 235 and just push myself to get used to it. If I do commit, I’m going to ask the college what they feel like I need to do.”

DMV Elite’s Marcus Helton sat down with Wainright to discuss his recruitment, goals for his senior year and more:

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A SCHOOL? “Not just basketball, it’s the education. Actually, Ohio State and Texas – as a matter of fact, every last one of those schools has a great education. They have tutors for every class you have – it’s not a study hall, but; it’s a time set throughout the day that you have to work with your tutor. I really needed that, and that really separated some of the colleges.”

WHAT IS YOUR TIMETABLE FOR DECIDING? “Before the season starts, actually I don’t want to go into the season and after a game, ‘Oh, I have to talk to this coach or this coach.’ I just want to get it off my back before the season and have fun.”

HAVE YOU TAKEN ANY VISITS YET? “I haven’t. Actually, I might end up starting after the SAT October 6." 

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KANSAS CITY AND THE DMV? “It’s smaller out here, really. I’m used to going to a gym and there’s about 100 people, or going to a court outside and there’s 100 people waiting. Out here, it’s kind of weird because everything’s spread out. You’ve got to find a gym where everybody’s playing pickup or got to a different school to play pickup or something. It’s just a big difference.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING TO MONTROSE LAST YEAR? “Last year was tough. Coming in, everyone had been here for three years. It was just a whole different setting, a whole different coaching staff, style of play, everything. So I had to just adapt to it, which I feel [the new players] are adapting to it like that, and that’s a good sign.”

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR SENIOR SEASON? “I want to do something we didn’t do last year, which is win the national championship and beat the teams that we lost to, Coolidge and – we lost o Marcus (TX), but I don’t know if we’re playing against Marcus this year. I want to improve shooting the ball, and that’s something we’ve been working on every day all day – all night, actually, too. The coaches, we’ve been working on that mid-range and it’s good, but it’s time to step it out. They say I have to be able to shoot the 3 at the next level, so that’s something that I’m working on.”

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE BASKETBALL EXPERIENCE? “It’s a lot, but just being blessed to play on one side of the country, and then hop on plane and fly across the country to play in another tournament. Just flying is really an experience because not many kids do that. Where I’m from, it’s rare to see a kid fly from Kansas City to the East Coast or the West Coast. But just playing against everybody that we’ve been playing; the guys we’re playing on the AAU circuit are going to play in college, and then they’re going to play in the league, hopefully.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OFF THE COURT? “I like to hang out with friends and my teammates. Got to the mall or go to the movies or watch TV – I’m a cartoon guy [Phineas and Ferb, Spongebob]. I love shoes; I’m not a sneaker head like most everybody out here, but I just like to by shoes. I’m a Nike and Jordan guy. In Kansas City, nobody really wore Adidas, but everybody’s starting to wear Adidas now – Shell toes and stuff like that. It won’t affect me at the next level; Baylor is Adidas, so it doesn’t matter to me.”

TOP: Ishmail Wainright against Montverde at the ESPN NHSI (photo by Wallace Barron for DMV Elite.) BOTTOM: Ishmail Wainright at the Takeover Certified Event. (photo by Marcus Helton).

Contact DMV Elite Editor-in-Chief Marcus Helton at or on Twitter @MarcusHelton. Also, check out DMV Elite on Facebook