Something quite rare happened in the world of basketball recruiting last week.
The recruits came to us.
That's right, thanks to the McDonald's All-American Game and the National High School Invitational Tournament, LSU nation got to catch a glimpse of the future with Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey in action on national television.
Below is what we learned about each Tiger signee's game and how it translates to the next level.
The Madison Prep five-star player represented Louisiana well as the state's lone representative (and first since Greg Monroe in 2008) in the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday night. Martin's West squad won 110-99, and he chipped in 10 points (on 4-of-7 shooting, 2-of-4 from the charity stripe), three rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes off the bench.
Here's what Martin told Scout's Beth Long about repping his state: "It feels great knowing that one of the top players in the country came from down south in Louisiana. It's been a while since a player from Louisiana was a McDonald's All-American, so it feels great to me. I'm just taking it all in. I'm real humble and don't like to be arrogant, so I just soak it all in."
What We Learned about Martin
The overwhelming takeaway was just how big Martin was compared to some of the country's best basketball players, a crew that always stands out with its size, height and length. Any questions of Martin being "undersized" were put to rest as he appeared to be every bit of 6-foot-9 and had clearly added some bulk, mostly in the way of muscle, to his frame. It would be my estimation that Martin is probably in the 220 to 225-pound range.
Martin was originally scheduled to compete in the dunk contest earlier in the week but ended up bowing out the day of the event. It was reported elsewhere he did so to rest his knees, but the player looked perfectly fine in the game Wednesday night and Scout's Evan Daniels said he showed no signs of being slowed down in practice, where he was a consistently active and productive big man for the West team. Martin's high school coach Jeff Jones, who was also in Chicago, said there was no issue at all with his knees.
Daniels had this to say about Martin's performance in the game: "Jarell Martin also impressed during the game. The power forward had great scoring touch inside, but can also face the rim and hit jump shots. He'll be an instant contributor at LSU."
How It Translates to LSU
Even though position players one through four can be virtually interchangeable in Johnny Jones' offense, what we learned this week is that Martin is destined to be a four (and, on some occasions, maybe a five) at LSU. But it seems increasingly unlikely that a player his size, who's just starting to fill out his frame and up his weightlifting game, will be thrown out there at the three.
After all Martin was the biggest player in the game for the West squad for stretches of his run on Wednesday, manning the five. He's mobile and athletic enough to play anywhere in the post, but I think it's safe to rule out Martin as a regular perimeter player (starting offensive sets 17 feet from the basket or father). Now it may be a different story on the defensive end. Depending on the matchup, I still feel as though Martin could guard an opposing three if needed.
Martin did nothing last week to change my mind on the fact that he's the most complete prospect to sign with the LSU basketball program in at least the last five years. Pretty impressive stuff considering he really just picked up the game two or three years ago.
Prime Prep, Mickey's high school team, received an invitation to play in the prestigious National High School Invitational, contested last week in the Washington, D.C. area. The Dallas-based outfit won its first game against Blanche Ely (Fla.) in overtime before falling out of the single-elimination tournament with a 57-55 loss to eventual champ Montverde (Fla.) in the semifinals.
Mickey, who inked with LSU in the early signing period, was incredible in the first game. He posted 28 points, eight rebounds, eight blocks and three assists in guiding his team to a hard-fought win. Mickey slowed down a bit in the second tilt, against better competition, scoring just 12 points.
What We Learned about Mickey
There were two equally important takeaways from Mickey's highly visible week. One, we all got to see firsthand just how much of an impact he can have on the defensive end. Mickey was a shot-blocking fiend in the first game, blocking inside shots chest-up, from the backside and even swatting a three-point attempt away on the perimeter. Mickey's length and (just as importantly) his disposition/approach on defense makes him a very valuable two-way player, especially for someone as young as he is.
Two, Mickey is a legitimately good and consistent free-throw shooter. In the victory over Blanche Ely, he sunk all 11 of his attempts from the line and was his coach's selection to shoot technicals. Even late in regulation and into overtime, Mickey was able to coolly and calmly connect on pressure freebies.
Finally, we learned Mickey, like Martin, may also be in the midst of growth at the end of his senior year of high school. Mickey's father told TSD's Matt McCurdy last week that Jordan recently measured 6-8 ½ in shoes. He looked just about as tall as teammate Karviar Shepherd, a TCU commitment listed at 6-9. However you split it, Mickey isn't just long-armed; he's got bonafide height coming into TigerTown.
How It Translates to LSU
Mickey is much more likely than Martin to play the three, but his game certainly points to a player who is most comfortable in the post at the four. If anything this week served as a reminder, with both Martin and Mickey, that LSU is getting two post-oriented players, not perimeter athletes who happen to have some length and height.
Seeing Mickey frequently involved in high-low passing with Shepherd and sophomore center Elijah Thomas also points to the fact that he can be an important cerebral part of Johnny Jones' halfcourt offense from day one. That, coupled with his ability to block and influence shots with incredible leaping ability, will guarantee Mickey at least moderate playing time from the moment he steps on campus. And, since he's a proven free-throw shooter, Mickey will be a prime candidate to be on the floor at the ends of games for the Tigers.
For a comparison base, Mickey looked this past week like the player Jones wanted Shavon Coleman to be in 2012-13. Difference is, Mickey is three inches taller, longer and can guard the post on defense. His stock rose last week in my book.
Evaluating Martin and Mickey
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