Q & A: David Patrick

LSU basketball assistant coach David Patrick is set to embark on his second season in TigerTown. TSD's Ben Love caught up with Patrick and got the latest on a couple of true freshmen, the transformation of Johnny O'Bryant and how the Tigers are attacking the recruiting trail.

Monday night I interviewed second-year LSU basketball assistant David Patrick while filling in for Jordy Culotta on "Off the Bench" on 104.5 FM (WNXX) in Baton Rouge.

Here are the contents of our discussion, including player updates on Jarell Martin, Johnny O'Bryant and Tim Quarterman as well as his thoughts on recruiting at LSU and the addition of assistant Korey McCray.

Ben Love: It's a fun time of year in college basketball. For the first time, coaches can work out and start developing the true freshmen on campus. What has the vibe been like in the practice facility with a number of new faces around?

David Patrick: Look, I'll tell you it's been somewhat night and day compared to last year. I think last year we came in here and I think the guys were a little, you know, unexpected, the returners, of what we expected as a coaching staff. And to see the veterans that have been around all summer, Johnny O'Bryant and Andre Stringer, be here, including all the new freshmen that are on campus; just the intensity and the level these guys have been working with is great.

BL: Give us an idea on how Jarell Martin looks. I know he's still trying to lose a few pounds, from what he told me when we saw him a few weeks ago. But how does he fit in with this returning team?

DP: You know, I think first and foremost is that Jarell is a great kid. You probably know that from when you met him and had dealings with him, and he has jumped right in. He has done everything we asked him. Like every freshman, the first week or so was a shock to him because the body isn't used to the intensity of work out here. He has really bought into doing extra work in the weight room with our strength coach Rick Lefebvre. He has been getting into the gym and doing extra work on his own, not only with myself, but with other coaches on campus, so he has hit the ground and set a good pace for a true freshman.

BL: I know you work a little more with the guards. Tell me a little about Tim Quarterman. He has told us he will play point guard. What are his strengths, and what does he have to work on and improve to be a point guard in the SEC?

DP: Obviously with him being from Georgia, and playing basketball in Georgia, he's not as highly touted down here in Louisiana as Jarell is, but Tim is a dynamic player. I don't think he has to pigeonhole himself as just being a point guard, which he is with his ball-handling ability, but Tim measured yesterday at 6' 6 ½'' and his body is still growing. He can play the point guard, he can play the two and the three, so he can play all three positions and help fill the void that Charles Carmouche left. He handles it well, a great passer of the basketball, extremely athletic, probably needs to get more consistent with his jump shot, which will come, but he is going to be a surprising piece of this team this year.

BL: When you mentioned Carmouche, I think about his defense. That's pretty high standards for Quarterman. Can he check up like that?

DP: You know, what made Charles so great for us was that we could put him on a point guard, a two guard, a three man, and he was more than capable of guarding and locking them up. And what Charles had on Tim is that he was a fifth-year senior with grown-man strength. What Tim has on Charles is his length and athleticism, that can make up for his lack of strength that he is going to have, which is natural for a true freshman.

BL: All this added depth that the 2013-14 team has, just how much will it help, given the brand of basketball that Johnny Jones and your staff want to play?

DP: You know, when you walk into the practice facility on the first day here in the summer it looked like a new team. I mean they are so big. We just talked about Tim, who's 6' 6 ½'', Jarell is 6' 9'', and then John Odo is 6' 10'' and Darcy Malone is 7', and Johnny O'Bryant is walking around there, we are going to be a totally different team. Malik Morgan and Shavon Coleman are long, obviously you saw it at times last year that we like to press and get up, push the pace of the game. We were a little handcuffed at times because we didn't have a lot of depth. With the type of speed we have now it will enable us to speed up teams for a longer period of time in games, and bring that same brand of basketball that we played at times during this past year.

BL: I know there is a lot of talent in Louisiana coming down the pipeline over the next three to four years. Just how exciting can that be for the future of LSU basketball, having that much talent close to home in the state?

DP: No doubt, I think this first year was important to us trying to keep the two stars at home in Jarell and [Brian] Bridgewater, and we were able to do that. And I think kids, as a whole from Louisiana, want to play at LSU. I think the product we put on the floor makes it, or at least I hope, makes the kids want to play here. I think our staff is not only able to teach, but able to relate to them well, and what better place to be then in Baton Rouge at LSU. As you look at the top kids in the next three to four years, they are great from the ninth grade class on up, and if we are able to keep developing our team here and winning, I think it is going to be natural for these kids to want to stay at home. And it is our job to try and keep the best kids here at home in the state of Louisiana.

BL: Speaking of recruiting, I'm sure you have been able to meet and get more acquainted with Korey McCray, LSU's newest assistant coach. What kind of impact, maybe on a more regional level, do you expect him to make in recruiting?

DP: I think Korey brings some good experience being at UCLA, and even though he was there for two years, he had great tutelage under coach Ben Howland. I think his skills in terms of recruiting are in the Atlanta area and the southeast region of the country. He should be able to walk in and help us right away. He is very connected in Atlanta, the Georgia area, but he is well-respected even in this region of the country. Korey is able to bring that in recruiting-wise, but he is also a good coach. He coached AAU, he coached in college, he coached at Florida State, and he coached at Mercer before, so not only will he help in recruiting, but he can help us on the floor as well.

BL: I'll tell you one thing that surprised me. I got the chance to talk with Korey McCray about a week or two ago, and he said he didn't know Johnny Jones before this hiring process. He knew who he was, but didn't know him personally before Johnny reached out to him. Does that surprise you a little bit?

DP: It does. I think one thing when Korey was coaching on the summer circuit, coach Jones was over at North Texas, so some of the guys Korey had, I don't know if coach was recruiting over there in North Texas. But Korey came here on a great recommendation. I've known Korey for a little while, and I think when we brought him in to interview he filled what our staff was missing.

BL: You get a rap sometimes as being an international recruiting guy, the guy that can go to Australia, the guy that can go overseas. Is that fair?

DP: You know what, it is and it isn't. I've always been the Australian guy and I'm like, well you know, maybe when I was out at St. Mary's we recruited Australia a bit more heavily because of the area we were in, but I signed more Americans over there than I did Australians. You know, it's fine, here you have to be different recruiting-wise. You can't take all internationals and win in the SEC, and I know that and we know that as a staff. It's kind of the icing on the cake, I guess, being able to go out and step out of your borders and be able to get a guy if we are not able to get them here in the US.

I don't know if people know, but I played high school basketball here in Baton Rouge in '94 or '95, whenever it was, and a lot of the guys that are coaching were playing when I was there, so they are more than happy to help me with recruiting. So many of my connections nationally have been on the west coast for awhile, since we recruited nationally there. So I have a lot of connections in the country, but I do always get stuck with that Australia/International tag.

BL: A guy I have heard a lot about this offseason is Johnny O'Bryant. He reportedly had a really good run out at the LeBron skills camp, has come back and looks a little leaner, a little more cut, a little more focused. Talk about what you have seen from Johnny O'Bryant, and how he is making that push, not only for himself to get drafted after his junior year, but how what he is doing is going to help this team.

DP: First and foremost I think Johnny, when the season ended, took maybe a week off at the most and was in there on his own in the weight room doing conditioning, and asking the strength coach what he can do to get his body right. And I think this time last year we had to ask him to go do that, and now he is doing it on his own. From a leadership standpoint the other guys have jumped on board. There is not a day where he is not in the gym, doing extra work or working on his shot, and it's paid off.

He's dropped maybe five to 10 percent body fat. He's a new man, it's unbelievable the transformation he has made, and I think him doing that is getting the other guys in there to do extra work. We have gotten great reports back from LeBron James; he [O'Bryant] was night and day from where he was last year in terms of his motor. He is consistently going hard all the time, and that just goes back to how he worked in the offseason. He was First-Team All-SEC last year, and there is no reason he can't be SEC Player of the Year with his tools inside and his experience in this league. There is no reason he can't go out there and be SEC Player of the Year this year.

*TSD's Eric Oslund contributed to this report.

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