Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:35 p.m.
Looking back on his first year at GW as a sophomore transfer, senior guard James Bishop IV describes his sophomore-year self as quiet.
But now Bishop – who’s dropped at least 40 points twice this year and averaged 21.7 points per game this season, solidifying him as a top-ten scorer in Division I basketball – has taken a leadership role with the team as a member of a strong corps of senior players. He said he hopes to express himself on and off the court with his performance by improving his understanding of the game and making quick, in-game decisions for the team.
“Coming into GW I was more on the quiet side,” Bishop said. “And I still am kind of quiet, but I’m just using my voice more to express not only myself, but then especially my teammates, and just being more of a leader vocally.”
Bishop said he’s looking to cement his legacy with a relentless work ethic to inspire the team both on and off the court – and he’s off to a good start, as the Colonials’ 3-2 record in-conference play is the team’s best start since the 2015-16 season.
With his performance both on and off the court for the Colonials as they roll to a 3-2 conference record, the team’s best start to conference play since the 2015-16 season, the year GW won the NIT. Bishop leads the Atlantic 10 in scoring and ranks second in assists per game, and the point guard became the first Colonial to drop 40 points in multiple games in a season since 1969, when GW Athletics Hall of Fame guard Bob Tallent achieved the feat.
In a career game against Hofstra on Nov. 14, Bishop totaled dropped a ferocious career high of 44 points on 15 field goals while also securing five assists, four rebounds and a steal.
Bishop said one of the biggest challenges the team faced this season has been staying healthy, as two of his teammates – graduate student guard EJ Clark and sophomore forward Daniel Nixon – underwent season-ending surgery, leading to a skimmed roster with just eight players earning regular playing time. He said the team has focused on maintaining morale and building resilience in practices to continue their success.
He said he is positive about the team’s performance since every player has moved the ball consistently and maintained fast-paced play, freeing lanes for Bishop and other shooters to hit open shots. Bishop said he has also become a more effective passer, earning 94 assists over 18 games and learned to read the floor to predict the opposing defense’s tendencies and exploit the weaknesses for scoring opportunities.
Bishop said Head Coach Chris Caputo has helped him hone in on areas where he can improve, like decision imaking, by having the team watch film on previous games and encouraging the team to play fluidly and unselfishly to open up the floor.
Off the court, Caputo describes Bishop as a “kind of a laid-back guy, quiet with a sense of humor,” saying he’s enjoyed spending time with Bishop and that he’s a fun player to coach due to his relaxed attitude.
Caputo said Bishop has earned the trust of his coaching staff and teammates during critical situations like scoring opportunities at the free-throw line and his ability to make plays at the end of the game when opponents look to make runs.
Bishop has been an example for his younger teammates, taking transfer players like redshirt freshman forward Max Edwards under his wing and talking to him about his own experience as a transfer when he came to GW after a year at LSU.
“He’s such a skillful player who is also always under control, very poised and allows him to feel like the game is happening very slow for him, which is why you make great decisions,” Caputo said of Bishop. “Usually when guys are sped up they make mistakes, James is so mistake-free because of how I think his skills combined with his perception action ability is just incredible.”
Caputo said the coaching staff has high expectations of Bishop due to his efficient playing style, and he expects him to be at the top of every opponent’s scouting report. He said he hopes to see Bishop turn the program around with the current improved conference record so he can be remembered as “the guy that got it started.”
“And for him, you know, he knows every night, teams are keen on him,” Caputo said. “And he’s got to be able to do what he does at a high level but also make his teammates better to actually free himself up.”
NBA recruiters from the Phoenix Suns, DraftPro Scouting and FIBA, or International Federation of Basketball have been seen at multiple games, like Saturday’s game against Saint Louis this season, scouting for prospects. Caputo said he knows Bishop will play basketball for a living and has the makings of a professional basketball player due to his performance in the past couple of games.
“He’s going to play basketball for a living for sure,” Caputo said. “How that all shakes out? I would say time will tell, but he’s a professional basketball player for sure.”
This post has been updated to clarify the following:
A previous version of the headline stated this year would be Bishop’s final season. GW Athletics spokesperson Kevin Burke said Bishop has one more year of eligibility in the NCAA.