Competing together

LSU signees Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey played on the same team in last week's Derby Festival Classic in Louisville. Jeff Jones coached that team, and inside he discusses how the two competed in practice and played alongside one another in the game.

The All-Star tour continued last week for LSU basketball signees Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey when the two prep standouts and future teammates competed in the 2013 Derby Festival Classic and got a taste of what it will be like playing together.

Martin and Mickey's talents were on display inside Freedom Hall in Louisville, playing on a team co-coached by Madison Prep sideline boss Jeff Jones.

As Jones told TSD, the connection shared by the duo was as impressive off the court as on it.

"From the time we arrived, and we got there on the same flight, they were inseparable. They were like brothers," said Jones. "They went everywhere together, they were roommates together, they ate their meals together. I worked with the post players, so I had Jarell, Jordan and (Memphis commit) Austin Nichols. I thought Jarell and Jordan really competed well against each other and pushed each other."

Jones recalled their team got in "maybe three hour-and-a-half practice sessions" before Friday night's game. He made sure to use that time to see how Martin and Mickey reacted when forced to guard one another.

"When we went five-on-five, I purposely put them on different teams so that they would have to guard each other," Jones explained. "Jordan had a quickness advantage, but Jarell's a little bigger, a little thicker and with his skill set Jarell steps out and shoots the perimeter jumper. But that was one thing I was impressed with on Jordan – he has a very nice mid-range game."

The competition bled over into the game, where Martin netted 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including two made threes, and Mickey totaled eight points, nine boards and four blocks.

Jones left the week and contest impressed with both players, but in different ways.

"Jordan was definitely near or at the top of everyone there in terms of athleticism," Jones said. "I'm so impressed with Jordan. He's a good kid first of all. Jordan has a motor, too, man. He ran several shots down. You know how LeBron James goes and runs down a guy who thinks he has an uncontested layup, then out of nowhere he just gets pinned to the backboard? Well, Jordan did that several times during practice and even did it in a game."

As for Martin, Jones explained the offense his team ran was well-suited for his offensive talents. "That's all we ran in that offense. Coach A.W. Hamilton from Hargrave (Va.) was the other coach along with me. We ran a lot of pick-and-roll stuff and then pick-and-pop stuff just to give Jarell some options because of his perimeter-shooting ability."

Continuing on Martin, the Madison Prep coach detailed where his five-star pupil is with his weight, health status and debunked the notion that Martin is a center.

"He's at 235 pounds. He's still maintained the athleticism, believe me," said Jones. "In the dunk contest (won by Louisville commit Anton Gill), Jarell executed a windmill 360. So the size isn't affecting his game at all.

"But actually, he's gonna lose about 10 to 12 more pounds here. He had a little foot injury that was really just from work and a long season. The doctor told him not to do anything for about two weeks, so he just sat up and didn't really do anything. He went to the McDonald's Game, and then he just kind of rested after that. So that extra 12 pounds he's carrying is really just due to inactivity. But he's back working out now, he's running and running the levee. He'll be back in his normal playing weight soon, which is really about 225."

On the possibility of Martin playing at the five: "No, he's definitely a four. He's not a center at all. He's more of a face-up four, a little like Terrence Jones from Kentucky a year ago. That'll be great with the guards that LSU has for pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll situations. He's capable of knocking down the 20 or 21-footer and three pointers. Jarell did that several times in the Derby Festival game, and that's what makes him a matchup nightmare."

Finishing his recap of the week's experience, Jones mused on whether LSU was getting two players who are more similar or different than one another in Martin and Mickey.

"I think LSU is getting two different players because Jordan doesn't have all of the ball-handling and perimeter shooting that Jarell has, but he has a lot of it," answered Jones. "Jarell, with kind of the way he played this year in high school, he was afforded the opportunity to put the ball on the floor more and create for others.

"But they're two different players. They're both power forwards, in my opinion, but they're two different types. Jordan's a better rebounder. Jordan's a better shot-blocker and a better defender, where Jarell's offensive game is a little more advanced. Both of them are workers, though. It will definitely be a good problem for Coach [Johnny] Jones and company to have."

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