LSU lands Courtney

The 2010 recruiting class is shaping up to be a big one for LSU. On Saturday night the Tigers received their first commitment for 2010 in power forward Jalen Courtney from Jackson, Miss. Well, sort of.

“I’m ready to let everyone know that I committed to LSU,” said Courtney, who also had offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Auburn and others, along with interest from Memphis, Marquette, Wake Forest, Oklahoma and Kentucky. “I’m relieved and it feels good to have it all over with.”


In today’s recruiting world, it’s not often that information is kept under wraps, even if it’s meant to be that way. But Courtney was able to keep his commitment a secret for a few weeks.


“I actually committed after I came down for the Ole Miss game,” Courtney said. “I didn’t want everyone to know at first because we knew we had a good chance to go deep in the playoffs this year, and I didn’t want any distractions for us.”

Even though he’s kept his commitment silent for a few weeks, the six-foot-seven, 210-pounder said the choice was a no-brainer after his visit.


“I went down for the Ole Miss game, met with the coaches, and saw the rest of campus,” he said. “Going into the weekend I actually wasn’t planning on committing. But on the drive back home I was talking with my mom about everything. We both agreed LSU was the best place for me, so I called Coach Scott to let him know.


“Coach Scott said he was so excited and the rest of the staff was too,” Courtney continued. “He said they wished I could come right now. I called Coach Johnson too, but he was on a plane so I had to leave him a message. When I finally got in touch with him he was very excited also and said he couldn’t believe I was ready to be a Tiger.”


While the Tigers coaching staff was excited to get the big man’s commitment, the decision came as a big relief for Courtney and his family.


“My mom knew how I felt about LSU from the beginning, so she pretty much knew it was going to happen when they offered me,” he said. “She just wanted to see the campus and academic center first, and she couldn’t have been happier when she did. And my little brother loves LSU, especially Mike the Tiger, so he was very excited about my decision.


“For me it was really a big relief,” Courtney continued. “It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders because anything can happen when it comes to recruiting. I’m going where I’ve always wanted to be and I’m ecstatic about it. I just feel at home there and I started thinking about my little brother too. I used to think I wouldn’t care about going away for college, but now I have a 3-year old brother that’s going to need me growing up. LSU is only about two hours away, so I have the chance to play for my dream school and be close to my family at the same time.”


The sense of relief Courtney felt when he first committed has returned now that he’s gone public.


“The day after I committed, I walked in my room and there was an LSU shirt lying on my bed,” he said. “My mom had gone out and bought us all kinds of LSU stuff, but I couldn’t wear it yet because I didn’t want anyone to know. Now I can finally start wearing it and I’m going to wear it all the time.”


After the news about Courtney’s visit and high interest in LSU broke in mid-February, interest from other schools started picking up significantly. In the end, he decided to go with LSU over some of the other schools that offered early including Marquette, Missouri, Arkansas and Georgia State.


The recruiting process can often become very hectic and get out of hand quickly, which was a big reason Courtney wanted to get his commitment out of the way early. It also helps to be surrounded by people that support your decisions and don’t pressure you into anything. Courtney obviously has that with his family, as well as his coach at Provine, Luther Riley, and his entire basketball family.


“Coach Riley has been so important to my whole basketball career, and I appreciate him helping me come to this decision,” Courtney said. “He’s helped me get ready for college. I really appreciate him being there for me without racking my brain about the decision. He’s always been there whenever I need him, and he still is. My teammates at Provine and my AAU coaches and teammates have always been there for me too, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”


Besides the Ole Miss game, Courtney has been keeping up with the Tigers all season, watching them on television or listening on the radio whenever possible. He’s happy with the season up to this point, and expects more good things to happen before it’s all said and done.


“I’m very proud of the team,” he said. “Last year they were down, and the attitude they have now wasn’t there. This year they pulled together and with a brand new coach. Usually it takes a while for a team to adjust to a new coach. Even with the loss to Vanderbilt this week, sometimes you need to take a step back before you can take a few steps forward.


“Looking forward, I think we’re going to win the SEC tournament,” he continued. “And in the NCAA tournament I’m looking for Sweet 16 or better.”


Courtney says he expects the Tigers to maintain the new standard they have set this season for years to come.


“Next year, I think Aaron Dotson will come in and have a big impact,” Courtney said. “I think Chris Bass and Storm Warren will have breakout years. Of course Tasmin will be back. They are losing a lot, but I don’t think it will ever get back to how it was last year now that they know how it feels and what it takes to win. I know Coach Johnson won’t let them get comfortable or make excuses.”


While most players would be looking forward to a break after just finishing their junior season and before AAU ball starts, Courtney says he plans on going straight back to work.


“I’m going right back to the gym because there are still things I want to get better at” he said. “Especially ball my handling; I want to be comfortable handling the ball. Also, all the little things like coming off screens better. The kinds of things I’ve never really had to use in high school but I know I will in college.


“There’s plenty more work to be done, and more defenders to be eaten,” he added with a laugh. “One time somebody asked me what my favorite food was and I told him defenders.”


Now that Courtney is the Tigers’ first commitment of 2010, he says he will be working hard to make sure he comes in with other very talented players.


“I plan on talking to other players about LSU,” Courtney said. “If there’s somebody that we need and that the coaches are after, I’m going to try my best to get them here. Especially because when I get there, I’m trying to win a championship. So if you’re an LSU fan, you have a lot to look forward to.”

Editor’s Note: Courtney and his teammates at Provine High School played in the Mississippi Class 5A State Championship game Saturday night against Biloxi. Provine fell, 68-63, in overtime in its bid for a third consecutive 5A title, but Courtney did his part by scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

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