LSU Tigers: Basketball Recruiting

Momentum is a powerful thing in the world of college basketball recruiting. While it tends to be a constant for a select few national powerhouses like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, virtually all other programs in the country are constantly competing for any edge that can push them to that next level.

In the wake of our initial 2014 ESPN 100 player rankings release last week and as we start a team-by-team breakdown of 2014 recruiting targets by conference over the next two weeks, here’s a look at five college hoops programs that are heading into the 2014 recruiting class with some very positive momentum.

3-star PF signs with LSU 

April, 18, 2013
Senior power forward Brian Bridgewater (Baton Rouge, La./Scotlandville Magnet) ended his recruitment on Wednesday by signing his letter of intent with his hometown LSU Tigers.

Bridgewater announced his decision at a news conference then made it official with his signature. He chose the Tigers over Wichita State.

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Several ESPN 100 recruits to play in NHSI

March, 12, 2013
The field is set for the fifth annual National High School Invitational, and it promises to be the most talented group in the event’s history.

All eight teams in the NHSI field are ranked in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings, and six are in the top 10. The tournament will be held April 4-6 in Bethesda, Md., and televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Seedings and matchups will be announced at a later date.

[+] EnlargeNigel Williams-Goss
Josh Holmberg/Icon SMIWashington recruit Nigel Williams-Goss and Findlay Prep look to defend their NHSI title.
This year’s NHSI is headlined by the No. 1 team in the nation, Findlay Prep (Nev.). The undefeated Pilots are the reigning NHSI champs and boast a loaded roster that features a quartet of ESPN 100 stars in Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington, No. 20), Allerik Freeman (UCLA, No. 65), Christian Wood (UNLV, No. 74) and Stanford Robinson (Indiana, No. 98).

“It’s going to be difficult [to repeat],” said Findlay head coach Todd Simon. "This appears to be the strongest field yet for the NHSI. The fact that we are 34-0 and have won NHSI three times it makes us a gigantic target. But it’s a nice little challenge.”

Top-15 recruits Kasey Hill (Florida, No. 9) and Dakari Johnson (Kentucky, No. 11) lead No. 2 Montverde Academy (Fla.). The Eagles are still smarting after consecutive losses to Findlay, first in last year’s NHSI title game and again in January on a Williams-Goss buzzer-beater that ended Montverde’s reign at No. 1.

Also in the mix for the coveted NHSI crown are: No. 4 Prime Prep (Texas), led by No. 53 senior Jordan Mickey (LSU) and No. 3 junior Emmanuel Mudiay (undecided); No. 5 St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) and ESPN 100 point guard Tyler Ennis (Syracuse); No. 8 La Lumiere (Ind.) with talented wing Detrick Mostella (Oklahoma State) leading the way; No. 9 Blanche Ely (Fla.), the Florida Class 7A state champ; and perennial top-25 squads No. 19 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and No. 25 Montrose Christian (Md.).

“To win this event we’d be 37-0, and with the schedule we’ve played it would put us in rare air in high school basketball,” Simon added.

Cleaning out the notebook 

February, 8, 2013
This week’s Friday notebook includes a look at LSU signee Jarrell Martin’s dominant senior season, how LSU may have opened a pipeline to Australia, the latest word on best-available point guard Rysheed Jordan and a look back at re-ranking the top five in the Class of 2012.

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No. 1 sophomore Stone talks offer list 

January, 11, 2013
MILWAUKEE -- Sophomore center Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/Dominican), the No. 1-ranked prospect in the ESPN 25, and his father, Bob, sat down Thursday evening to discuss how Stone's game is progressing and where they are in the recruiting process.

Not surprisingly for the top player nationally in his class, Stone has an elite offer list a mile long but has a plan and is executing it to perfection.

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No. 15 Martin highlights LSU class 

November, 15, 2012
Five-star prospect Jarrell Martin (Baton Rouge, La./Madison Prep), No. 15 in the ESPN 100, signed his official letter of intent for LSU on Wednesday.

"Jarell Martin is an exceptional talent who has the ability to play both outside and inside," first-year coach Johnny Jones said. "With his ball-handling, passing and ability to score, he will be able to create opportunities for other players on his team. He could be a difficult matchup for our opponent."

Martin is part of a class ranked No. 7 according to ESPN's RecruitingNation. Also signing with the Tigers were ESPN 100 recruits Jordan Mickey (Arlington, Texas/Prime Prep) and Tim Quarterman (Savannah, Ga./Johnson). LSU also signed John Odo (Nigeria/Hill College) to an SEC Aid Agreement. Odo is scheduled to enroll in January.

"This class consists of four young men of exceptional talent that will allow us to continue to compete in the highest level in the near future," Jones said. "The versatility of this class is what we were looking for from the beginning. We are excited about the future of LSU Basketball."

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LSU gets even more versatile with Martin 

November, 1, 2012
First-year LSU coach Johnny Jones didn't have to travel far to land his third commitment from the ESPN 100. Local power forward Jarrell Martin (Baton Rouge, La./Madison Prep), Louisiana’s top-ranked player and the No. 14 prospect in the nation, said yes to the Tigers, eschewing offers from Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Alabama and St. John's. Martin joins power forward Jordan Mickey (Arlington, Texas/Prime Prep Academy) and point guard Tim Quarterman (Savannah, Ga./Johnson) as Top 100 players on the Tigers. Add in Australian post Deng Deng, and Jones has put together a terrific incoming class oozing with talent.

[+] EnlargeJarrell Martin
Courtesy of Scott KurtzLSU signee Jarrell Martin is having a monster senior season.
The best word to describe this class is versatile. And that's significant as the Tigers will have to duke it out with the top-five recruiting classes rivals Kentucky (No. 1) and Florida (No. 3) have heading to the SEC.

Jones implores his teams to play fast and get out on the break to score as many easy baskets as possible. In the half court, Jones will spread the floor and attack with an inside-out approach. With his length and skill, Martin should fit that offense very nicely. The 6-foot-7 post is also capable of defending both forward positions in various schemes, including switching situations and traps.

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BATON ROUGE, La. -- How big is it for LSU to land Jarrell Martin, the No. 14-ranked player in the ESPN 100?

Martin, who committed to the Tigers on Thursday in an assembly at Madison Prep Academy, is the most coveted recruit to commit to the Tigers since Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who was ranked as the nation's No. 13 player when he pledged in 2004. If LSU coach Johnny Jones was hired to improve recruiting, Martin's pledge is proof that he's delivering.

Jarell Martin
David Helman/ESPN.comNo. 14 hoop prospect Jarrell Martin, decked out in an LSU hat, committed to the Tigers on Thursday.
That makes Martin the the most coveted player to commit to LSU since Davis who, like Martin, prepped at a local high school, as Davis attended University Lab.

Martin should provide Jones with plenty of the firepower he wants in implementing an up-tempo, fast-break offense at LSU.

At 6-foot-7, Martin projects as a power forward, but he said he hopes to move inside and out, depending on how he's matched up -- and Jeff Jones, Martin's coach at Madison Prep, agreed with his star player's assessment, comparing him to North Texas standout and former Johnny Jones pupil Tony Mitchell.

"Really what will help Johnny with his system are the guys he'll have in John Udoh and Deng Deng and [Jordan] Mickey and [Tim] Quarterman," Jeff Jones said. "... There will be a lot of places to move Jarrell around. And whatever you ask Jarrell to do, he's going to do it."

Martin sees his versatility as being similar to a particular player who never even considered attending North Texas.

"I'd say I see my game like LeBron James -- I just take whatever is there," Martin said. "If a big guy is on me I'll go out and use my perimeter game, if a small guy is on me I'll go down low."

In light of that versatility and willingness, the presence of other big men among LSU commits could be a boon for Martin offensively.

Add in LSU's previous commitment from forward Jordan Mickey, the No. 46 player in the ESPN 100, and LSU has two Top 50 players in the same class for the first time since 2005 when Mitchell and Magnum Rolle both signed with the Tigers as top 50 recruits on LSU also has a pledge from Tim Quarterman, the No. 66 player on the Rivals 100 and junior college forward Deng Deng. John Odoh, a junior college center, will join the team in January.

Better than that, Jones' new batch of recruits already have some experience playing with each other.

"I actually played against Tim Quarterman and Jordan Mickey," Martin said. "Me and Jordan Mickey used to be together at the camps, and he was one of the guys that we'd be together at the camps and become close friends."

But it's Martin who stands out among the trio of prospects. LSU has had other top players since Davis, but stars such as Tasmin Mitchell (No. 20, Rivals) in 2005, J'Mison Morgan (No. 26, ESPN), Aaron Dotson (No. 45, ESPN) in 2009 and Johnny O'Bryant (No. 46, ESPN) in 2011 were all highly regarded recruits, but not as much as Martin.

It should also be noted that Morgan signed with LSU when John Brady was still head coach and was let out of his letter of intent by Trent Johnson, eventually winding up at at UCLA before transferring to Baylor.

No. 14 recruit Martin set to announce 

October, 31, 2012
We didn’t see this one coming. ESPN 100 power forward Jarrell Martin (Baton Rouge, La./Madison Prep), thought to be a spring signee, is set to make his college decision.

According to Jeff Jones, the head coach at Madison Prep, Martin will announce Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT at the school.

“He’s tired (of recruiting) and he’s ready to decide,” Jones said.

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Big recruiting week for LSU's Jones

September, 30, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. -- When Johnny Jones was hired as LSU's basketball coach in the spring, he came with the reputation of being a top-notch recruiter.

Evidence of that has been pouring in this week.

Just two days after the Tigers landed a commitment from ESPN 100 forward Jordan Mickey, Jones added a second ESPN 100 commitment Sunday when point guard Tim Quarterman (Savannah, Ga./Johnson) pledged to sign with the Tigers. They are the first two ESPN 100 commitments Jones has landed for the Tigers since he arrived on campus to replace Trent Johnson, who left LSU for TCU.

It's huge for LSU, a program that hasn't been to an NCAA tournament since winning the SEC in 2009 and hasn't consistently been able to land top-tier talent. In Jones' short tenure, all of his recruits before this week -- point guard Corban Collins and wings Shane Hammink and Shavon Coleman in the 2012 class and junior college big men John Odoh and Deng Deng as early commitments in the 2013 class -- were relatively unknown, sleeper-type recruits.

What this week proves is LSU won't necessarily have to rely on the under-the-radar guy -- Jones can contend for top talent.

The addition of Quarterman also further clarifies the picture of what kind of team Jones wants to have. In Coleman and Hammink, Jones signed a pair of long, 6-foot-6 wings and Deng and Mickey are both versatile, athletic, 6-8 players. With big point guards like the 6-foot-5 Quarterman and the 6-3 Collins, LSU's future lineups appear to be ones of across-the-board athleticism and length.

A lineup with Quarterman at the point, Deng and Mickey inside and Coleman and Hammink on the wings would be all players 6-5 and taller, but not taller than 6-8, with the interchangeable ability to switch on screens and get in passing lanes with long arms and athleticism on defense and run with explosiveness and skill on the fast break on offense.

With four commitments already, LSU has one more scholarship to give in the class.

And there is at least one more ESPN 100 player who shares a mutually strong interest with LSU, 6-foot-7 forward Jarrell Martin, a local talent from just a few miles north of LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. If Jones can add Martin -- another versatile, athletic forward -- it would further establish the identity of Jones' Tigers teams going forward.

And it would also further establish LSU, under Jones, as a legitimate player in the national recruiting scene.

LSU lands top 100 PG Quarterman 

September, 30, 2012
Last week ESPN 100 point guard Tim Quarterman (Savannah, Ga./Johnson) expressed his intentions to commit in time for the early signing period. It didn’t take long for that thought to come to fruition. Quarterman committed to LSU today over offers from Alabama and South Carolina, giving LSU coach Johnny Jones his second top 100 commit in the last five days.

"LSU was the best fit and coach Jones has a plan for me. I was very comfortable there," says Quarterman, who will join fellow ESPN 100 standout Jordan Mickey in Baton Rouge.

Quarterman, who is the No. 65 player in the ESPN 100, had a terrific spring and a better summer and should pay immediate dividends for LSU both on and off the floor. Quarterman ran with the nationally renowned Atlanta Celtics AAU squad over the summer and his pledge could open the door for more recruits out of talent rich Georgia to land with a reloaded LSU squad.

Quarterman is a major sleeper among the guards in our ESPN 100, but he is one of the most versatile perimeter players in the class. He's also valuable on defense as he can defend all three perimeter positions.

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Mickey a nightmare for SEC defenders 

September, 28, 2012
Combo forward Jordan Mickey is a true matchup problem for defenders, and LSU coach Johhny Jones will have the luxury of utilizing his new big in multiple positions on the offensive end of the floor.

In transition Mickey runs the outside lane with long strides, making himself available for easy baskets that include an array of highlight worthy finishes. With his commitment, the LSU break has instantly improved.

In the half court set, Mickey can post and elevate over smaller defenders or drive past less-mobile defenders from the perimeter. He can finish at the rim or pull up for a midrange jumper that is smooth and effortless. In special situations, Jones can involve Mickey in end-of-the-clock situations, where he can be a long and athletic receiver and finish drop off passes at a high percentage.

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LSU lands Texas big Mickey 

September, 27, 2012
LSU head coach Johnny Jones has his first big-time commitment after power forward Jordan Mickey (Dallas, Texas/Prime Prep) committed to the Tigers over offers from SMU, Oklahoma State and Ohio State.

Mickey, the No. 45 player in the ESPN 100, learned about Jones during the coach’s time at North Texas.

[+] EnlargeJordan Mickey
Courtey of Reggie RankinESPN 100 PF Jordan Mickey committed to LSU.
"The fact that he brought a down in the dumps UNT program to a winning [team] in the last five years, that says a lot about him," Mickey said.

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Jarrell Martin late to recruiting game 

September, 21, 2012
Jarrell Martin (Baton Rouge, La./Madison Prep) is a top 20 player, actually he’s No. 12 in the ESPN 100. Most guys that high profile are big news generators. Martin isn’t like most guys.

The 6-foot-7 power forward, who happens to be one of the best rebounders in the country, hasn’t taken an official visit. Only Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State have either been to his home to do a visit or have plans to visit. Bama, LSU, Oklahoma State, St. John’s, UCLA, Texas A&M and Louisville are on his list of offers. None of them have a campus visit date confirmed for Martin.

Martin can’t take an official visit until he takes a standardized test, be it the SAT or ACT, and that won’t happen until Oct. 27. He hasn’t seen any campuses, so it’s proper to refer to his recruitment as being in its infancy stages. Martin won’t decide until next spring.

Not a basketball junkie growing up and with only a season and change of high school hoops under his belt, Martin would tell you he has a lot to cram into the next few months. This young man is a standout prospect, we know that. We also know that come the springtime, he’ll be coveted and still relatively fresh to the process.

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ESPN 100 SG Keith Frazier likes eight 

September, 19, 2012
Senior shooting guard Keith Frazier (Dallas/Kimball), the No. 19 overall player in the ESPN 100, is one of the best shooters/scorers in the country regardless of class.

Right now Frazier likes Providence, Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Arizona, SMU and Memphis. Frazier will likely commit in April, which will allow him to get a better feel for programs, coaches and players. Without a doubt he will be a prime target for many elite programs.

[+] EnlargeKeith Frazier
Courtesy of Anthony Scott KurtzESPN 100 SG Keith Frazier will make his college announcement on March 28 between Texas A&M, SMU, Texas Tech and Auburn.
"I am looking for a school where I can instantly play big-time minutes, the coach is loyal and with me when I do something good or bad, and someone that can help me get to the next level. Make me a pro," Frazier said.

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