Lake Charles (La.) Sulphur has a pair of standouts for the 2010 class that LSU is interested in and one of them is Matt LeBato. The 6-8, 180-pound guard just got through for the day at an AAU tournament in Memphis but he took a little time to talk hoops and recruiting with

“We’re 3-0 right now and we have three games on Tuesday,” LeBato said late Monday night. “If we win those three then we go to Orlando for Nationals. It’s been a lot of fun playing on the road this summer and it’s a dream to see all of those college coaches in the stands. I love it.”


Some of those college coaches that he saw in the stands were two LSU assistant coaches and that was something the standout performer enjoyed seeing.


LSU is one of the schools showing early interest in LeBato but that number will surely rise as time goes on.


“I’ve already talked to coach (Trent) Johnson and coach G (Guerinoni) and then I’m also getting recruited by North Texas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Ole Miss, and some smaller schools from around the area,” said LeBato.


LSU was one of the first schools to contact LeBato and he said the call he received brought a big smile to his face.


“I’m glad they started early because it showed me how much they were interested since they were one of the first schools to call me,” he said. “Coach Johnson said his goal is to bring LSU back to the Final Four and to win some championships and I think they’re going to do it.”


Hitting the recruiting trail hard is something Johnson and his staff has made a point to do and keeping the state’s top talent at home could pay big dividends down the road.


“I think they’re going to do a good job and I really feel like they started doing a good job on recruiting because we have a lot of good in-state people for 2010,” said LeBato. “It would be nice having a bunch of Louisiana players playing together.


“I remember watching Big baby (Glen Davis), Garrett Temple and Tyrus Thomas in high school and then watching them go to LSU and making it to the Final Four and beating Duke,” he added. “That was real exciting to watch that because they were in the same situation we’re in with good Louisiana players and stuff.”


LeBato said that Johnson has talked about keeping the top players in-state and although he is keeping his options open he seems to be in tune with that philosophy.


“I really like the idea of staying close to home, in Louisiana, so my family and friends could come watch me,” LeBato said. “I’m going to be watching them a lot this year because it’s going to be exciting to see what coach Johnson does now that he’s at LSU. I’m keeping my interest on a lot of schools right now but it would be nice to be able to play at LSU.”


Note: Matt LeBato played his sophomore season at 165 pounds and averaged 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. He described his game to us and then his coach at Sulphur (Chip), who is also his father, expanded on that a little.


“Shooting the ball is my strength,” Matt said. “I can take you inside or outside. I can also bring it up the court and dish it. My size gives me an advantage because when a bigger guy gets on me he will back off and give me the outside shot. Then when a smaller guard is on me I can post him up. I’ve been working on my post moves to give me that good inside-outside game.”


“He can shoot the ball real well and he’s going to be able to score from the outside,” added Chip. “He’s really smart and knows how to play the game. He understands the defensive end and everything. I think when he gets a little stronger he will be able to do more stuff inside because he’s mostly an outside guy right now. If he can get that inside-outside combination then that is going to make his game better.”

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