There's one name above all others you'll hear most when talking about Louisiana prep hoopsters in 2014 – Craig Victor.
The St. Augustine High School (New Orleans) forward, who lists himself at 6-8, 220 pounds, is the cream of the crop next season in the Pelican state. Victor, who projects as a combo forward at the next level, is ranked as Scout's No. 4 power forward and No. 19 overall prospect in America.
In short he's next year's Jarell Martin.
The irony, of course, is that Victor and Martin are quite familiar with one another, having played AAU ball together on the New Orleans Elite squad coached by Gregg Holmes.
When TSD caught up with Victor Saturday before the Louisiana Rising Stars All-Star Game held at Baton Rouge Community College, he indicated LSU's 2013 signing class, which includes Martin, is definitely something that will have a bearing on his collegiate decision when he's ready to pull the trigger.
"The class they have coming in next year at LSU is a huge draw for me because it's really good," Victor responded when asked his priorities in the recruiting process. "Location is another positive for them as well because they are really close to home.
"Coach [Johnny] Jones came in and turned things around real fast. The team will be better next year and they have an excellent recruiting class coming in for 2013."
LSU's chances are also buoyed by the relationship Victor has developed with assistant Robert Kirby, his lead recruiter. As Victor explained, Kirby has been in his ear for quite some time.
"Coach Kirby is my main recruiter at LSU," Victor said. "He was recruiting me when he was at Georgetown, and we already had a great relationship. He ended up at LSU and it was crazy when that happened, but in a good way. It really gives me a lot of comfort with LSU knowing that he is there."
At this point Victor has narrowed his list down to seven, but he's in no hurry to make a final decision, saying he won't do so until some point in his senior year.
"I have a top seven of LSU, Arizona, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA," said Victor. "I want to look at each school and see how each team is performing next season. I'll also have to figure out how exactly I fit into their programs and their schemes. Those are some of the things that I will look at."
As for the timing of his commitment: "I plan on making my final decision during one of my signing periods. I'm not sure which one yet, though."
Heading into the summer, Victor is most concerned with improving his game on the AAU circuit. He intends to make a few visits as well, although the destinations are currently unknown.
"I plan on taking some visits this summer. I'm not exactly sure where," continued Victor. "I also plan to try to develop my skills in AAU this summer and just become a better overall player on the court."
The state's top overall player in 2014 has benefited from the experience of playing AAU ball with the likes of Martin and current University of Texas guard Javan Felix, with whom he also shared a prep court. Playing with and against some of the best in the country has helped Victor immensely.
"I would say I've learned how to remain composed," Victor said of his encounters on more of a national stage. "We play in front of a lot of people every night, so we have to be able to stay composed. It has also taught me discipline because that is something that our coach demands out of us. The last thing that AAU has done for me is build my character. I understand what it takes to get to the next level, and I'm not going to let anything get in the way."
Even without Martin, Victor feels this summer will be a big one for New Orleans Elite.
"Tyree Griffin will be a big player for us this year on the New Orleans Elite," added Victor. "Ladamion Keys (of Bogalusa) just joined our team and is also a special player that will come up big for us this year. We should be pretty good."
*TSD's Ben Love and Austin Cooper contributed to this report.
Victor narrows list to seven
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