TSD's Matt McCurdy recently interview LSU basketball assistant coach David Patrick. The following is part one the Q & A from that interview, along with some details on Patrick:
The Patrick File
High School: Chapel Trafton in Baton Rouge (now The Dunham School)
College: Syracuse; Louisiana-Lafayette
Professionally: Canberra Cannons (Australia) 1999-2001; Chester Jets (England) 2001-02; Alcora (Spain) 2002-03.
Coaching: LSU 2012-Current; 2011-12 Houston Rockets; St. Mary's 2006-11; Nicholls State 2005-06.
Notes: Born in Bermuda; moved to Australia, where he grew up and attended school until moving to Baton Rouge for his senior year.
Matt McCurdy: How do you like it at LSU so far?
David Patrick: I love it. I came to Baton Rouge to play high school ball in 1994 and I have been able to go on and play college basketball, play professionally and coach and, to come back here and be a part of LSU and be a coach, is like a dream come true. I would've loved to have played here in college, but Randy Livingston was here at the time and they were point-guard-heavy. I wasn't able to play here, but now I'm able to coach here. It's icing on the cake.
MM: How did you end up in Baton Rouge to play high school basketball?
DP: I came here from Australia. I came here on a touring national team. We toured the U.S., and toured Louisiana in 1993. My ambition at the time was to come over for my senior year and play high school ball in the States. There was no internet at the time, so the best way to get recruited was to go to high school in the states. I had a friend of my coach named Eddie Palubinskas (former LSU basketball player from Australia). Eddie helped my coach and my mom find me a school to go to, which was Chapel Trafton at the time, for me to play my senior year.
MM: How do you know Johnny Jones and how has your relationship developed?
DP: Johnny recruited me in high school (when he was an assistant at LSU). He was one of the guys I had good conversations with. As I went on to play and got into coaching, we re-met on the road seven or eight years ago recruiting. At the time, he was at North Texas and I had started at Nicholls State. When I moved out to California, we would see each other every summer. There are certain guys you see on the road that you stay in contact with over the phone, and he was one of them that I always stayed in contact with. He got the LSU job, then he called me in early June when he had an opening. I jumped at the opportunity to come work for him. To be honest, there were three other schools that I had narrowed it down to. He called me on like a Monday, and was at my doorstep on a Tuesday, because I had kind of made my mind up where I was going. He convinced me and my wife that this was going to be a great situation.
MM: What are the differences in recruiting international players vs. American players?
DP: Obviously I have recruited a ton of international players at Nicholls State and St. Mary's. I think the one thing that distinguishes the international kid from the American kid is that they don't get recruited as much and they don't play on the AAU circuit, like they do over here in the States. Most international kids are just grateful to have the opportunity to play in the States. When I was at Nicholls State, most of those kids signed there without even looking at the campus. They want to come and play in the United States and they couldn't tell you the difference between Nicholls State and LSU, they are just happy for the opportunity to get a free education and to play basketball. At least from the international kids I have dealt with, you are getting kids that are used to practicing two and three times a day. They come here and they already have the work ethic, because they play year-round over there. It's different here with the rules in high school, where you are only allowed to practice so much. When they get here, they are already in the mode of going two or three times a day. You don't have to instill that in them. Another thing is that most of them have played against grown men from a young age. So when they come in as freshmen, the adjustment is usually a little easier.
MM: Is the talent harder to evaluate, with the distance and the lesser competition?
DP: The hardest thing to evaluate is the athleticism they are playing against, because the game is so much faster here. The guys tend to be more athletic here. You have to have a good eye for it. You go there and they are playing against a bunch of slow guys. You say, ‘how will that translate here? How will their athleticism translate to a Top 25 program?' I think that is the hardest thing to judge when you are recruiting internationally.
MM: How does the decision making process work to decide which international players to recruit? For example, if LSU needs a shooting guard, do you go international or American?
DP: I've done this long enough to say that, if you have done well on the international stage, meaning you've done well in World Championships, and you number well there. It usually means you will number well here in college at a high level. In the WCC, Big East or ACC, those international guys that do well. They are usually guys who have done well in world competitions, against the USA, Spain, Brazil and countries like that. They are the ones that tend to rise to the surface.
MM: It's a necessity for a lot of schools, like St. Mary's, to recruit internationally. Do you think it's a necessity for LSU to recruit internationally?
DP: I don't think so. I don't think it's a necessity for us to do that internationally, because of the pool of talent that we have available to us within this state, neighboring states and even nationally. We're recruiting kids in Chicago, Atlanta, New York. Everyone knows who LSU is. I know the reasons at St. Mary's and Gonzaga that you need to go out and recruit internationally. It is because you are not going to beat UCLA and Arizona on a guy, or even Cal and Stanford. You still have to get somebody that's able to play at that high-major level and compete in that league. So, the next best thing is to go out of the box and recruit, whether it's Europe or Australia. I think here at LSU, if we do the job we are supposed to do, we should be able to get some in the state and nearby states and maybe pick one or two every year or every other year internationally. But I don't think we are going to live or die on international recruiting, because of the talent level that is available to us here.
MM: Do you feel like you have been stereotyped as an international recruiter?
DP: That's a good question. I think I had at St. Mary's, because I recruited so many Australians. What never gets mentioned is the American kids I recruited, which is OK. I think it's good and bad. As you try to move up in the profession – and at that time my goal was to be a high-major assistant and to one day be a college head coach – I knew at this level you couldn't just recruit internationally. I wanted to prove that I could recruit here. I didn't want that stereotype to stick. It's a good feather in your cap, but being able to recruit nationally is just as important, if not more important.
MM: I notice you don't have an Australian accent. Have you ever had one?
DP: I'm originally from Bermuda. I never really got the accent. I only lived there for seven years. I'm 36 now. That's not much of your life when you think of it. My mother still lives there. I still have a house there and I go back often. I may have had some words that had the Australian accent, but I never really picked up that strong accent.
MM: Being a former international player and coach, has that hindered you from going into American high schools and recruiting?
DP: Not yet. I think as the international game has expanded, and the NBA has so many international guys playing now, that stigma doesn't come across as bad. It's actually a good topic of conversation when you get a guy on the phone.
MM: How often do you go to Australia?
DP: I've already been once since I've been at LSU. Probably two to three times a year. Probably seven years ago, you could have gone once a year. But so many schools are now dipping into that pool of recruiting, that you have to be over there and recruit them the same way as you recruit American kids, because every coach is over there when there is an open evaluation period or an open contact period. So, to keep a leg up, you need to be over there just as much, if not more. That's what we were able to do at St. Mary's. First, it's closer to Australia. We were able to be over there so much, we became more visible than other schools.
MM: When you are over there, are you normally evaluating, or recruiting players that you have already evaluated?
DP: I'm usually recruiting players that I already know about. It's a small pool of talent that can play at the level we are trying to get. Most of the coaches that coached me are still coaching over there. They will pick up the phone and say ‘David, there is someone you need to see. He's good enough.' I can trust them. They know what level we are talking about.
Q & A: David Patrick
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