If you thought Ben Simmons was the only Aussie LSU is after in the 2015 class, think again.
The Tigers, along with Nebraska, are in the hunt for one of the best young players down under – Jack McVeigh.
McVeigh, a wing player standing a shade over 6-foot-7 and weighing 210 pounds, is in the midst of a stateside tour with his parents. The McVeighs took in Lincoln earlier in the week, watching the Huskers’ narrow 70-65 loss to Indiana on Wednesday night, and they’re currently in Baton Rouge, where the trio will attend the Tigers’ non-conference finale tonight versus Savannah State.
“It was good,” Jack McVeigh told TSD of his time on Nebraska’s campus. “It was definitely an experience. I’d never seen snow before. It was like 120 degrees when I left from Australia, so it was a big difference there. But it was a great experience, for sure.”
His official visit to LSU began Friday and already one encounter has left an impression on McVeigh.
“It’s amazing. I watched a training session and all the players go hard,” explained McVeigh. “Coach [Johnny Jones] and DP [assistant head coach David Patrick] are great to be around. You can see their passion for basketball, which is a big part of it for me.”
Something else paramount for McVeigh, and a prime reason LSU and Nebraska are the only two schools he’s still considering, is the Australian connection.
The Tigers have a fellow countryman on the roster in Darcy Malone, are adding another in 2015 with blue-chipper Ben Simmons, as well as Patrick, who has been a recruiting whiz in Australia dating back to his days on the staff at Saint Mary’s (CA), where he helped land Patty Mills.
The Cornhuskers have an Australian presence, too, primarily via assistant Chris Harriman, a native of Sydney who successfully recruited his former stomping ground while on staff at Saint Louis prior to winding up in Lincoln.
“It’s just like a confidence that they know where I grew up and how I grew up and what I was doing in Australia,” shared McVeigh, who has also been courted by the likes of Virginia, SMU, UCLA and Boise State. “It’s sort of like that little connection that other coaches might not have or might not understand.”
As far as the caliber of player both schools are vying for, McVeigh competed extremely favorably in U 18 Australian Junior Championships in 2012 and 2013.
The first time around, when McVeigh was playing for Queensland and on the younger end of players in the competition, he averaged 17.6 points and 12.4 rebounds. In 2013 McVeigh averaged 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds, a stretch which included a memorable matchup against 2014 five-star Jonah Bolden.
McVeigh, who considers himself a “two or a three” on the floor, attended Lake Ginninderra in Canberra (“the same one as Dante went to,” he points out) and graduated in December but will remain at the Australian Institute of Sport (also in Canberra), where he’s been living the last two years, for the next six months or so.
Dante of course would be Dante Exum, the fifth pick in last year’s NBA Draft and current guard for the Utah Jazz. McVeigh had the good fortune of working out with Exum on a daily basis for a while at AIS, something that helped refine his game.
So too has his wealth of experience rubbing elbows with older roundballers during the majority of his basketball-playing life.
“The big benefit is just the bodies. I’ve grown up playing against bigger bodies, stronger and buff,” continued McVeigh. “I’ve had to learn how to guard guys that are like a lot bigger than me. It helps coming into college when I’m playing against guys that are like four years older than me. I’ve already had that experience from playing in the men’s tournaments and competitions.”
Elected as his country’s U 19 captain a year ago, McVeigh got sick and wasn’t able to attend qualifiers. He hopes to again make the squad this April and compete in the U 19 World Championships in Greece in late June.
Assuming all goes to plan McVeigh would trek from Greece over to America at the tail end of summer to begin preparing for his freshman season. But will that international flight take him to Nebraska or Louisiana?
“My parents love both,” said McVeigh. “They’re really enjoying it, hanging out with all the guys and seeing where I’ll live for the next four years. They’re loving it, for sure, from the people to the coaches at both programs. They’re just taking it all in so that we can make a decision when I go back.
“I’ll probably go back home and make a decision within the next week and then sign in April.”
From there McVeigh assured he’ll chase the same dream any foreign player coming to the U.S. for college hoops is chasing.
“I’d like to help a team go as far as they possibly can and hopefully play in the NBA,” he concluded. “That’s the plan.”
Aussie standout Jack McVeigh hits the States
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