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The Isaiah Briscoe Interview: A Boogie Up Production

 

6'3" Isaiah "Boogie" Briscoe of NJ, Photo by Andrew Slater

In the final game of his freshman campaign, 6'3" guard Isaiah "Boogie" Briscoe scored a team-leading seventeen points for St. Benedict's against eventual ESPN National High School Invitational Champion Findlay Prep. Throughout the season, Briscoe demonstrated a maturity and fearlessness that belied his youth.

Playing for a program that starts very few freshman, Briscoe nevertheless started in the Gray Bees backcourt with the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year, 6'2" Tyler Ennis, and 6'3" future Miami Hurricane Melvin Johnson. Under the guidance of Mark Taylor, they elevated the program to a 36-3 record, with Boogie averaging over thirteen points and over five assists against a challenging national schedule. For his efforts, the Union, New Jersey native was named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team, along with his close friend, 6'11" Karl Towns, also of New Jersey.

Briscoe received scholarship offers before he ever set foot on a high school court, and they have continued to rain in from across the country.  He has already received offers from Syracuse, Connecticut, Arizona, Florida, Baylor, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Seton Hall, as well as interest from Duke, Kentucky, and Ohio State.

Briscoe's bloodlines are long and deep. His dad, George Briscoe, was a standout for Stockton State College in New Jersey, and now works in Newark, NJ as part of a community action group. His older sister, 5'11" Iasia Hemingway, just finished her final season as a member of Syracuse's women's basketball team. Isaiah's cousin, Kyrie Irving of West Orange, NJ and Duke University, was recently named the NBA's Rookie of the Year for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

New Jersey Guard Isaiah "Boogie" Briscoe, Photo by Andrew Slater

"Boogie" Briscoe has other connections to Duke University.  St. Benedict's is the alma mater of 2010 National Champion and current Hornet forward Lance Thomas.  Coach Mark Taylor coached former Duke All-American and current ESPN analyst Jason Williams for four years at nearby St. Joe's of Metuchen, NJ.  At a press conference at the NHSI, Coach Taylor reportedly said that he sometimes teases Williams that Isaiah may wind up developing into a better player than the former national high school player of the year.

There's been no rest after the high school season for the promising young guard from the Garden State. He's now played ten Nike EYBL games this AAU season for the New Jersey Playaz, the AAU program of former Duke guard and current Bobcat Gerald Henderson, and helped them qualify for next month's Peach Jam in South Carolina. Briscoe participated in last month's Mary Kline Classic, a charity basketball event dedicated to raising money for brain cancer research, named after the mother of his close friend Alex Kline.

This June, "Boogie" Briscoe headed to Long Beach, California to participate in the Pangos All-American Camp. Although he was one of the youngest participants, his fearless play resulted in his being named a Pangos Cream of the Crop Top 30 selection. Last weekend, Briscoe participated in Nike's Elite 100, a St. Louis-based showcase designed to find and enhance some of the best young talent in the country.

Isaiah "Boogie" Briscoe spoke with Blue Devil Nation about Coach Taylor's comparison to former NBA lottery pick Jay Williams, about fighting complacency, and on the advice he received from Kyrie Irving, among other things.

 

 

 

Let’s talk about your season at St. Benedict's and how it went overall. [private]

You know I had a great first year. I think I finished with 517 (points) playing with Melvin (Johnson, a Miami commitment) and Tyler (Ennis, the Gatorade Player of the Year for New Jersey). It was a great experience. We went 36-3, went to ESPN Rise, and I just think we played well.

You had a chance to play on national television this year in the NHSI.

It was a great experience to play on ESPN and going against great guards like Dominic Artis. Just playing in front of everybody and competing is just great and I had fun. We competed.

Did you feel any added pressure being on TV?

 I don’t believe in pressure so playing on TV is like playing here or on the playground or anything like that. 

What did you think when your coach at St. Benedict's, Mark Taylor, said you may wind up better than Jason Williams. How do you feel about that comparison? That’s some pretty high praise.

Yeah, it is and it’s a blessing. You know I’m a freshman and comparing me to the second overall pick in the draft, it’s just a blessing and as I continue to work hard maybe I can follow after him. I mean he was a lottery pick and the player of the year in college. It's a lot to live up to. He's a tremendous player.

 

 Speaking of Jason Williams, another Duke guard, your cousin Kyrie, just won the Rookie of the Year award in the NBA. You must be very proud of him.

You know that’s great. I work out with him sometimes when he’s back home so him winning rookie of the year is just great for the family and everything. I just want to follow in his footsteps especially and keep it in the family.

Does he give you any advice?

Yeah, he always gives me advice. He tells me to keep working hard, do right in school, keep my head straight and everything else will follow. 

What are your goals for the rest of the summer?

Well, you know we’re going to the Peach Jam. I want to do well in the Peach Jam and perform well. And just get in the gym and work on my speed and agility with my father and that’s probably it.

You were mostly a combo or two guard on the St. Ben's team, but what do you view yourself as long-term?

I'm a point guard, but, with Tyler there, he's one of the top point guards in the country. I'll do whatever I have to do for us to win. If Coach wanted me to score more, I scored more. Pass more, drive more, whatever, I'll do it. With Ty and me in the backcourt, we're gonna be tough next year too. After he graduates, I'll move over to point guard. It's his time to shine.

What's it like playing with Tyler? He had a great year in his own right. Gatorade Player of the Year. You guys are relatively close in age, but is he able to mentor you a bit? 

He's been great to play with and we've got a good chemistry. He shows me some things.

He's an efficient player.

Oh, yeah, definitely. He makes great decisions. He takes good shots and he can find the open man. He makes it look simple.

People are always interested in recruiting. I know you've already got a lot of programs after you. Can you list some of the programs that are interested in you?

Yeah, I've been blessed. UConn, Arizona, Syracuse, Florida, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Baylor have all offered so far and schools like Duke, Kentucky, and Ohio State have shown interest.

Are you in a rush to decide?

No, I guess I'm not in a rush, but I'd rather decide sooner than later. My mom would like to take my time. I'm not sure, but I don't think I want to take, like, four years to decide.

 

What do you consider some of your strengths and weaknesses right now?

My strengths are that I’m an all around point guard. I can play combo, so anything that coach needs me to play I can play. I can score, penetrate, pass. I'm competitive. My weakness, I’m not going to tell you my weakness, you’re just going to have to find out (laughs). I'm working on getting  on my handle, my outside shot, getting quicker, and some footwork.

Are there any players you try and model your game after?

Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Tyreke Evans. Kyrie too.

 Kyrie has taken over that motto of ‘humble and hungry.’  Is that something that you try to follow?

Yeah, yeah, I follow that motto. You know just try and stay level-headed, don’t get too big headed, and just continue to do what I’m doing. Stay hungry!

There's always a concern that some young people who are ranked highly will become content and satisfied. How do you fight or guard against complacency and not rest on your early laurels?

Just never rest (smiles and laughs). You know whenever I get a chance to go in the gym I’m working hard. Everybody in Cali is always working hard when I’m sleeping so I just got to work hard when I get a chance. I know that there are guys in my class working on their game in Chicago and Vegas and Jersey. You can't let your guard down.

 What are you looking for in a program when you finally make a decision?

A great education, open court games, pick and roll, a great coach and system and things like that.

Are you a good student?

Pretty good. 

Are you, at least, a B student?

Oh, yeah, definitely. My family always pushes me.

How about your coach? What do you want your coach to be like?

I want him to yell at me and everything, but also understand the game. I want a hall of fame coach and things like that. I want a tough and fair coach. Coach Taylor has helped push me. I like that.

Where do you like to catch the ball most?

Usually on the wings… I can pass, shoot or drive. Tyler gets me the ball in good spots.

Your dad credited some of your toughness from playing a lot in Newark. Do you feel that has had an effect on you and playing with toughness?

It made me a tougher person. When I was younger, I would always hang out with older guys and they’d show me the ropes of the streets and everything.

Let’s discuss your defense a little bit. Where do you feel you’re at with that right now?

If it was graded I think I’m at a solid B. My defense is getting better and it got better dramatically during the high school season. Coach (Mark) Taylor (St. Benedict's head coach) helped me a lot on my defense so it’s getting better.

Do you have any visits you’re taking this summer?

 Yeah, I didn’t plan it yet, but I’m going to visit Arizona and Florida this summer. 

 Who do you think is the toughest player you’ve had to play against?

I’d say Dominic Artis (2012 Oregon signee) and Kyle Anderson (2012 UCLA signee), those are probably the toughest players I’ve played against. 

There aren't too many high schools that have produced an NBA player, let alone multiple ones at the same time. At Saint Benedict's, you've got guys like J.R. Smith with the Knicks, Lance Thomas with the Hornets, and Samardo (Samuels) with the Cavs right now. Is there a lot of talk internally about things like legacy or looking to those guys as, sort of, role models?

Yes and no, we look at those guys like we want to get where they already are and we don't want to let the program drop or anything, but we just try to work on our games and win right now. Hopefully, Melvin (Johnson) will make the NBA and then Tyler (Ennis) and then me. I definitely hope to join all of them in the NBA one day. I'm just trying to work on my game and, hopefully, one day I can get there too. That's all I can do, you know, work. We respect all of them… a lot.

What are you hoping to show coaches this summer?

That I play hard and smart. I want to show them that I can play with the ball and without. I want to show them that I can score, pass, and that I'm an all-around type of player. I love playing basketball…and hopefully they can see that too.

Can you tell the audience a little bit about your family? Your dad works as part of a community group in Newark and I heard that your mom works in a financial business?

Yeah, my dad tries to help the community in Newark and my mom works in an accounting office.

So, that's why you do well in school. She's pretty smart?

Oh, yeah, she's really smart. (laughs)

You played well in the Mary Kline Classic and helped with the games and some of the behind the scenes things.

Oh, yeah, well, it's a great cause and Alex (Kline) is a great person. I just wanted to help in any way that I could. There were a lot of good players in that game. I mean Alex has been great to me and helped me a lot with advice. It was a lot of fun and we helped to raise a lot for an important cause.  I talk to Alex almost every day.

What about the Pangos All-American Camp?

Well, it's great to have a chance to play against some of the best kids from around the country. I think I've played well out here and learned some things. It's been fun.

What would you like the audience to know about you away from the court? 

That I'm a happy kid that likes to make people laugh and smile. That I'm a good kid and I work hard. People always say that I make them laugh.

Speaking of working hard, you work out regularly with your dad, who used to play in college, on Saturday mornings. What do you guys work on primarily?

Oh, we work on just about everything. My handle, shooting from all areas, conditioning. We practice and play for hours. He gets after me.

Speaking of conditioning, what are you trying to do with your body? Get leaner? Get stronger? What are you hoping to improve about your body?

I'm actually pretty lean. It just looks bigger than some guys my age. We're trying to get quicker and stronger. Those are pretty much the main things.

Where are you working on your strength? At school, a local gym, or home? 

Mostly, the gym.

What are your expectations and goals for the next high school season? 

We're going to try to win the national title. We want to win the NHSI. We came very close this year, but we'll be better next year. I've got to continue to improve. We've got some good talent coming in too!

Has Coach talked with you about how your role or responsibilities might change?

Yes, he said that I'll be handling the ball more and playing mostly with Tyler. He expects me to step up and take more of a leadership role as a sophomore. I've got to keep improving and working. Help the team and be an example with Tyler for other players.

Can you give the audience a scouting report on Karl Towns, one of your close friends? Also what's he like as a person?

Oh, he's an incredible player. Karl can shoot as well as any guard, but he's about 6'11." He's got great post moves and he'll show more of that this year. He's a great defender and he's getting stronger too. Off the court, he's smart. Karl's a leader and just a great person. He loves to laugh too. He cares a lot about people. We used to play on the same AAU team, but we don't now. 

You think that you'll play together again in the future?

Just watch, though, Karl's gonna join us for AAU in the future. We'll play again in the future. (laughs) I'm sure of that. I've just got to convince him to join us. (laughs)

You were named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team. What did that honor mean to you?

Oh, I'm always grateful for every award or trophy.  I'm trying to help my team win and get better, but it's always great to have somebody say something positive about your work. It means that you're doing something right…and I've just got to keep it up. I can't rest or let it get to my head.

 How did you get the nickname "Boogie?"

Oh, it was when I was really young. I'm not sure what age exactly, but I kept running around and people just started calling me "Boogie."

In the future, would you rather I call you Isaiah or Boogie?

Oh, it doesn't matter to me. It's whatever you prefer.

Before one of the schools that you mentioned showing interest in you was Duke, what do you know about their program?

They're recruiting me. They're always one of the best programs in the country. They've got Coach K. He's a Hall of Fame Coach. He spoke to me when I was younger. They've sent a lot of guys to the League.

What did Coach K say to you?

Just advice. He just told me to keep working hard and maybe they'll recruit me one day. It was real cool.

Do you have any plans to visit their campus? What do you know about the school itself?

No, not yet, but maybe someday. I don't really know too much about the campus or school. I'd like to know more.

 What is their pitch to you?

You know, just that I’m on their radar and to keep working hard and to make sure that I’m doing right in school.

You’re still very young so you have a long ways to go. Usually, Duke doesn’t start getting very serious until players are a little older than you. 

Yeah, I don’t know a lot about Duke yet. I know Kyrie went there and they have a lot of NBA players, and Coach K’s a Hall of Fame coach.

Who's your favorite pro team?

I really don't have one. I like individual players. I like to watch big or strong guards like Deron Williams, Tyreke, Kyrie, or Chris Paul. There are so many guys that just switch teams.

Who are you close to on the AAU circuit?

 I’m friends with everybody really. I'm close with Karl (Towns) and Kyle (Anderson) and Tyler (Ennis). You know Wayne Selden, Stanley Johnson, Kevin Zabo from CIA Bounce, I’m cool with everybody.

 Thanks a lot for your time. I appreciate it.

Sure thing, I told you I got you.

[/private]

Van Coleman recaps the NBAPA Top 100 Camp for BDN

 

Coleman is high on Cartright, who grew up a Duke fan.

The NBAPA Top 100 High School Camp finished up this past weekend and BDN will soon take a look back at what we saw from both a Duke and national perspective.  But before we go there, let's hear what veteran recruiting analyst Van Coleman had to say about the camp as he shares a recap with BDN Premium members [private]-

More to come - [/private]

Anthony “Cat” Barber continues to impress at NBAPA Camp

One of the more impressive players during the morning session of the NBAPA Top 100 Camp was Anthony "Cat" Barber, who tallied 16 points in his opener.  The consensus among talent evaluators is that he has been improving his already lofty stock.  Here is an interview with the budding star: [private]

More to come - [/private]

Nike EYBL Session II Day 2 – The Duke angle

Coaches look on

Day Two of the Nile EYBL Session II is in the books and it was a long one where the coaches were in the gym all day and night. It's hard to figure out where to start tonight in that my head is swimming from information overload. Let's start with Tyler Ennis who is still [private] on the radar and while he is listed as a PG, he shows off more shooting guard skills to me despite being just 6-3. I spoke with him after his game. And then there is Andrew Wiggins who if NBA rules allowed would go straight to the league. Of course Duke has interest but this will not be an easy get, so I would call that interest somewhat luke warm in that they know it would be quite the battle.

I was impressed with Wayne Selden (2014) today and he's going to be a good one, I secured a video chat with him. Duke has a lot of interest in him but it is too early for them to concentrate on that class which includes Theo Pinson. The interest is there for Pinson but they know he is a long ways from making his decision.

Boo Williams continued their slide and will likely not make it to the Peach Jam or the EYBL finals, dropping to 2-7 with a loss to Mokan. Al Freeman has not been impressive in the event which I said from day one and I have yet to see him use his potential in a good way. When his offense struggles he allows it to effect his whole game and while he had a good game tonight shooting the ball, his other stat totals were again, non existent. I don't think Boo uses him right. Anthony Barber is good, but not good enough to earn an offer at this point. He is a PG that cannot really pass that well and the chemistry with Freeman ia average at best. And Try Williams continues to regress with many questioning his work ethic.

Julius Randle improved his stock and that is hard to do when you are ranked 2nd in your class. His handle is nice for a big man and he dominated when he did take it to the paint. He told BDN he had so many triple teams he decided to take his game to the perimeter and it seems to be working. Yes Matt Jones is better and he told BDN he is now 6-5 but the same weight. I have vid interviews with both.

I spoke with ex ACC official Larry Rose for a good long time and what a chat we had. He is head of MEAC officials now. I laughed at him being ragged in Cameron back in the day.

I watched a bit of Jahlil Okafor and his game is about the same as it was a year ago in that he needs to be more aggressive. A ton of folks really pick my brain about Duke now and I found myself giving disinformation to a couple of the more obnoxious types:)

Semilore Ojeleye. Semi is pronounced Shimi. I sat with Coach for part of his game and he like him a lot as do the assistants. I was tipped off they thought he could be offer material on Friday and had a brief chat with him on video. Great kid. His game? Nice. Great stroke from 3, solid, strong finisher on dunks. Listed at 6-7, but said he is 6-6. And guess who he pulled for when he grew up but don't they all;(. Anyhow, love his game and want him in royal blue. Unique player with incredible background, smart, solid student -- the whole package.

Ish Wainright is a defender supreme who can guard almost anyone and wants all challenges. Coach wants to see more offense from him. He was a beast tonight and hit a three point shot at the buzzer and Team Takeover finally won and that meant we got to talk to him, yay. Yes, that was sarcasm in that his coaches are a trip an then some.

Coach was upset about the injury to Derrick Rose and spoke of the challenges in filling the Team USA roster. Of course. Dwight Howard is out too but all the studs are expected to play. He's been on the road non stop and came in late from Arkansas where he saw Austin Nichols score 35 points, grab 15 rebounds and swat 7 shots away in a single game. Yeah, he's good.

Okay, that's all I have got off the top of my head but I have yet to get to my notes. I will close it out tomorrow before taking that four hour ride back, so do not expect a whole lot on Sunday evening. However, the video interviews will balance well with Andrew and the many interviews he still has. [/private]

Duke offers Marcus Lee

Blue Devil Nation tipped off the masses that Duke came away enamored with California Supreme big man Marcus Lee (6-9, 210) after the Nike EYBL.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski called Lee today with an offer which makes the second the Blue Devils have handed out in two days.

We had BDN Recruiting Analyst Andrew Slater on the scene and we made sure he spoke to Lee and that interview is on the way for BDN Premium members.  We knew the call was coming and that he would likely earn a coveted offer to Duke and BDN just confirmed it via sources close to the team.

Lee told BDN's Andrew Slater yesterday that he credits volleyball, in terms of jumping, concentration, and being peaceful, with helping his shot blocking. "He's trying to carve out a niche as a shot blocker/rebounder. His brother and uncle will be the point men in his recruitment, " said Slater.

Lee told Slater that he grew up a Carolina fan, but said he's very open to Duke. He has a brother played college ball as well.  Distance will not be a factor in his recruitment, but he's looking for a coach that he's comfortable with, like Miles Simon (his AAU coach), and warm weather is a must.

We will have Slaters' complete interview up for BDN Premium members shortly, so check back in.

Rasheed Sulaimon talks of his McDonald’s All American game experience

The Duke Blue Devils fan base is excited about Rasheed Sulaimon coming to Duke this coming season and he is excited as well.  BDN Premium caught up to Sulaimon yesterday, hot off his 18 point performance where he keyed the West squad to a win in the famed McDonald's All American game.  Sulaimon, of course, won the three point shooting contest as well.  We discussed a myriad of subjects which included his play and the staff and fans reaction to his play and what he will work on now that he is back home.  Sulaimon touches on recruiting where Duke is in hot pursuit of Amile Jefferson, Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker and his relationship with them.  He also talks of getting a challenge from Duke assistant coach Chris Collins after he won the three point shooting contest and what Coach K has him working on in another in depth interview from BDN.

Congratulations on winning the three point shot contest at the McDonald's All American Game, that was awesome. What are your thought and what was going through your mind as you were competing?

I was nervous to begin with but once the buzzer rang I just started to focus and found a rhythm and kept shooting and they were just going in. After the first round I knew there was a really good chance I could win it and my confidence was high and I felt like I was the best shooter going into the competition.

Your family had to be really happy for you. What was their reaction?

My parents were very excited that I won and that my hard work payed off.

Have you been able to talk with any of the Duke coaches since that happened? Did anybody like text you and say congratulations or that kind of thing?

Yes, yes. I talked with all the coaches and they [private]  just told me congratulations and Coach Collins sent me a text message talking a little trash because he was the first Duke guy to win the contest. So, he congratulated me, but he said I still had a ways to go before I could reach him.

He does talk a little smack, I'll tell you he's still got a nice outside shot. The coaches will go at it with the managers and walk ons during the season. You'll see that they get out there and ball. But you represented Duke well and then there is the McDonald's game itself where you scored 18 points, knocked down four treys. What was it like to play against the best of the best?

You know, it was just a great day having the elite talent in the nation come there and compete and it was very special. And then there was Chicago and the arena itself where Michael Jordan use to play and such a big crowd. It was kind of nerve racking at first, but like I said after I started to get in the flow and everything like that, I just got back in the flow and played basketball.

It looks like you had all kinds of fun, participating in the Duke-UNC-NCSU smack down and all kinds of things. Which guys did you kind of hit it off with out there?

I hit it off with a lot of guys and I knew almost everybody that was there, But a couple of the guys I kind of really hit it off with was me, Shabazz (Muhammad) and Amile Jefferson, we were all pretty cool. And Kyle Anderson and Yogi Ferrell as well, so I had a good relationship with a lot of guys on the team just to name a few.

I have to ask this, Duke is hotly pursuing Amile Jefferson and Shabazz Muhammad. I'm assuming per our past conversations that you were in their ear a little bit.

Oh yes, of course. I was in their ear constantly in that we (Duke) are recruiting both of them. I'm trying to get them to come to Durham with me next year and I think we have a good chance if we keep recruiting them hard and stay on their tails, then I think we've got a good chance to get both.

It looks like it will come down to the last minute as there is a lot of transition going on, Duke is worried about losing Mason Plumlee, so a lot is going on. What about Tony Parker? Was there anything going on there?

Oh yeah. I talked with Tony a little bit and I told him or got in his ear a little bit but I think he is still reviewing the schools that is left. I'm not too sure where he's at with his decision making, but he still says Duke is in it.

That's interesting. So what do you do now that you are back home after being in all the hullabaloo of the All American event? Where does Rasheed go from here?

Back to the gym. I have to go get better, get stronger and get faster and work on parts of my game and just get ready for the Nike Hoops Summit and the Jordan-Brand Classic and then getting ready for Durham.

You'll be in around July 1st or so?

Yes sir.

Obviously what you have been working on has been good for you are putting the ball on the floor better, your perimeter game is tight. Have the coaches told you to work on any particular thing? Your game is really coming together.

Thank you (with humbled emphasis)

Oh, you're welcome. Everybody that saw the game and objective media thought you were one of the three best players in the game and there is a lot of talk of you. So, it has to feel good to get the compliments.

Yes sir. Some of the things the coaches want me to work on are key in on just staying in the gym everyday and get better polishing my skill set and everything like that. A couple of things they really focused on though, was for me to continue to get stronger each and every day and continue to tighten my ball handling in that I will need it next year. I have a good handle now but it wouldn't hurt to make it better and become quicker and faster.

Have they talked to you at all about possibly testing you at the PG position?

Yes, they have. We've talked about possibilities of me playing the PG in certain situations and the off guard. It looks like I will be used in a combo of both this coming season.

You move your feet really well. Therefore you have the chance to become a really good on ball defender, the kind they really didn't have at Duke last year. Is this something they have spoken to you about as well?

Oh yeah. Definitely, definably. I have always taken pride in my defense and want to take the best perimeter player on that end but they challenged me with the expectation of me coming in and playing great defense and I'm ready for that challenge. I'm going to step up and do whatever I can and play as hard as I can to meet Coach K's challenges.

Do you still converse back and forth with some of the players on the team?

Oh yeah. I keep in touch with a lot of them, like Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton. Josh Hairston and Alex Murphy. I keep in touch with a number of players on the team and I have good chemistry with them.

That's great! You've been blessed.

Yes sir. I can't complain about anything, I've been blessed my whole life.

That's great. Everything is coming full circle for you. Coach K saw something in you and offered early on and you have continued to improve and climb the rankings since that time. The Duke fan base is very excited about you coming to Durham and our message boards are buzzing and blowing up with how giddy fans are.

Thank you so much, I appreciate the call and interview.

Best of luck the rest of the summer and you're welcome, Rasheed.

Have a good one! [/private]