To read Part One of Matt McCurdy's Q&A with LSU basketball assistant David Patrick, click on the link below.
David Patrick Q & A, Pt. 1
Matt McCurdy: It seems like the Sudanese players in Australia are drastically increasing. Is that something new, or was that going on when you were there.
David Patrick: It's quite new. Obviously, with the war that has been going on for years in the Sudan, a lot of refugees were sent to Australia and other countries. A lot of those kids were 9, 10, 11-years old. They are now 17, 18, 19 and have kind of grown up there. They have good hand skills, in addition to their height, and they are able to play basketball at a high level.
MM: Since that is kind of a new thing in Australia, does your area of influence and contacts extend into the Sudanese population in Australia?
DP: There are a couple of coaches that bring those guys up and I am pretty connected to those guys. They are ex-players and are some of the guys that played with me professionally when I played over there. One of them is (former NBA player) Sedale Threatt. He lives in Australia and has an academy over there. He has taken a ton of them under his wing. He's one of the main guys that work a lot of those Sudanese kids out.
MM: I have noticed there are a lot of Australian players in American junior colleges. Do you ever recommend players that you've seen to junior colleges?
DP: A lot of it has to do with academics. The NCAA requirements to play college sports have gotten harder and harder. A lot of the guys over there that can't qualify for Div. 1 have to go to junior college, or Div. 2 or NAIA. When junior college coaches call me, I will definitely give them my opinion on guys, that's for sure.
MM: At LSU, do the assistant coaches have a certain territory that you cover?
DP: Coach Jones has kind of made it open season out there. With my connections on the West Coast and the east coast, and locally, and Coach (Robert) Kirby has been in the profession forever. With the connections he's made being at Mississippi State and Georgetown and recruiting nationally. Coach Jones has just let us recruit nationally. If you look at the guys that we are recruiting, they are from all over the country, and that's not by mistake. We have enough ties to where guys are trying to help us nationally.
MM: Did you know Coach Kirby before you got to LSU?
DP: Just OK. Our paths crossed. I think we played each other once when he was at Mississippi State and I was at St. Mary's. But I didn't know him extremely well.
MM: Have you gotten along well with him?
DP: Oh yeah! We're having some fun.
MM: You have had a very good recruiting class so far this year. What are your goals you would like to accomplish with the rest of the 2013 recruiting class?
DP: I think we got four quality players signed early and got everyone's attention nationally. When we started recruiting in the summer, you are promising kids that, hey we are going to have some good players to go with you. But we had no proof that we were going to have good players with you. Someone had to jump in first. The fact that we signed four high-level players early, now anyone that we sign late can already see that the proof is in the pudding with who we have coming in. We've talked about that last spot, or those last two spots we are trying to get. We are trying to get that best available player. Most of our positions are filled. We want to get the best available player, not just on the court but off the court. We have established a culture that if you get here and you don't do what you are supposed to do, we are going to make an example of you. We don't need you. We definitely are going to try and get the best available player for this last spot.
MM: Is any potential player you may sign in the spring already on your radar, or are you looking for new prospects and talent? Are you already locked in on any guy that you may get?
DP: We are not locked in on anyone. We are still looking for names. We didn't know what we had on our current team in November. For instance, we didn't know Shavon Coleman was going to play the way he's been playing. We didn't know Andre Stringer was going to step up the way he has stepped up. So, as you figure out your team and they evolve on the court, you can figure out where your holes are going to be. Some guys are better than we thought, or further along than we thought, so we can be more selective with this last scholarship. By the time March or April rolls around, we will have a true indication of what we really, really need.
MM: What position do you think is the glaring hole that your guys need to fill?
DP: I think any time you can find a center. A back up 5 or a starting 5-man would be good. Obviously we have John Odo who is in now, and he will help. I think anytime you can find depth in the post, it can help.
MM: Do you have a 5 that you are looking at right now?
DP: No. I can't even think of one. They're hard to find, man. A true 5-man that can hold down the post? They are hard to find even in the NBA. That's why it's so good that Andrew (Del Piero) has come so far. It's because he's a 5-man. If he were a Tuba-playing point guard, I doubt he'd be playing. That size is just hard to find.
MM: Are you projecting John Odo as your starting 5 next year?
DP: I think between him and Johnny (O'Bryant), but who knows what Johnny is going to do for next year (regarding the NBA). I've never seen Odo play. He was already done playing when I was hired. Obviously Johnny (Jones) recruited him and he was signed at North Texas, so he must be good enough.
MM: How is recruiting for 2014 looking?
DP: When we took the job, we were so far behind for 2013 that we put all of our eggs in the five or six players that we wanted to home in on for 2013. We got four of them early and we are looking now at 2014. I'm not saying we are overlooking 2013, but we don't want to be behind on this next class 2014. We are doing a lot of work on that class. It's a talented crop in that class, not only in the state but nationally. I think we have some validity from 2013 that this next crop of guys will have a chance to play with the talent we have coming in. If we keep playing like we're playing, talking about style of play, because I'm not saying we're playing excellent or anything, we will attract some of these 2014 kids, because they have gotten to see us play now.
MM: There is a really strong crop of Australian players coming up in the next two to three years. I know you can't discuss the players by name, but what are your general thoughts on Australian recruiting in the near future.
DP: I think any kid coming in the next two or three years out of Australia or out of the Pacific region, because New Zealand has become such a factor as well, that we are going to be involved with at a pretty high level. All those coaches are guys I played for. And now, I'm getting old, it's their parents that I played against. So you will hear LSU involved with all these kids coming through.
MM: A lot of the players coming from Australia now, and in the next few years, have American fathers who came to Australia to play professional basketball. Is it any different recruiting them than it is native Australians?
DP: The difference is that you are recruiting parents that have lived in the states, grown up in the states, went to college in the states. They know the different levels and have connections to different colleges, obviously from their old coaches and their old teammates. They have more access to the American system than the typical international kid that doesn't have American folks.
MM: How do you feel about the development of Shane Hammink and Malik Morgan as freshmen?
DP: They are typical freshmen. They have had highs and lows. They have shown flashes of brilliance and flashes of being true freshmen. If they stay at it and keep working hard and putting in extra work, they will have a chance to be very good players here for us, because they do have good size and they do have good athleticism. They just have to apply it, like all freshmen do.
MM: What about Corban Collins?
DP: He was great for us at Boise, even though we didn't win. He was great on the road in a hostile environment. We were able to sit Anthony Hickey for a half because of our confidence in Corban. Like any freshman, he is going to have his ups and downs. But, he's a heady player. He's a good point guard, but he's different than Hickey in that he's more of a distributor, than a scorer. I think he's going to be a good point guard for us here in the future.
MM: Does the stability of Anthony Hickey affect your recruiting of point guards?
DP: We don't take that into account. The things that he's been disciplined for are going to make him a better player and make us a better team in the long run. It's nothing crazy. You've got to make a point as a new staff, you've got certain levels on and off the court that you're going to keep and hold guys accountable to. We are not going to change them for any player, whether you are our best player or worst player.
MM: There are more and more international players in women's college basketball these days. Have you been asked to help out the Nikki Caldwell and the Lady Tigers during your trips to Australia?
DP: A lot of Australian women stay in Australia and play professionally, or play in the pro leagues in Europe. I haven't been asked to help, but if I saw or heard about a player, I would definitely pass on that information.
Q & A: David Patrick, Pt. 2
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