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Thursday, November 15, 2012
LSU signs three ESPN 100 hoop stars

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- On the court, Johnny Jones hasn't seen his first big test yet.

In recruiting, however, the first-year LSU coach won big on Wednesday.

LSU received national letters of intent from three ESPN 100 players: forwards Jarrell Martin and Jordan Mickey and guard Tim Quarterman. LSU also announced the signing of John Odo, a center from Hill College in Texas, to an SEC Aid Agreement. Odo will enroll at LSU in January and because of that, does not sign a NLI.

The class is currently ranked No. 7 in the country by ESPN.

All four had made public commitments to LSU before signing day. A fifth committed player, forward Deng Deng of Lee College in Baytown, Texas, did not sign Wednesday. The early signing period continues through Nov. 21.

Jones likes what the Tigers have signed so far.

"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."

Indeed, there are some versatile players. Martin, the local product from Baton Rouge's Madison Prep Academy, is the No. 15-ranked in the ESPN 100. The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder can play inside or out.

"With his ball handling, passing and ability to score, he will be able to create opportunities for other players on his team," Jones said. "He could be a difficult matchup for our opponent."

The 6-7 Mickey, who is attending Prime Prep in Arlington, Texas and is ranked No. 47 in the country, has a similar versatile game, Jones said.

"Jordan Mickey has an exceptional knack for scoring inside and out," Jones said. "He is a tremendous passer and his ability to rebound and defend both the post and perimeter positions will allow us to utilize him in multiple positions."

At guard, the 6-foot-5 Quarterman gives similar versatility. The No. 67 player in the ESPN 100, the Savannah, Ga./Johnson senior is listed as a point guard by ESPN, but at least one other scouting service projects him as a small forward.

"Tim Quarterman is a great playmaker and his height will allow him to play the 1, 2 and 3 offensively," Jones said. "He also will have a great defensive presence for us. His basketball IQ will allow him to step in and compete at this level right away."

Odo is the one player signed Wednesday who plays one position. A 6-10 center, Odo, a native of Nigeria, led the nation in rebounding at Hill last season, averaging 14.2 rebounds and 12.4 points. He signed with Jones' North Texas team last year, but got out of his letter of intent when Jones took the LSU job. He'll join the team in January, but is not eligible to play this season. He'll have two years remaining.

He'll give LSU the size inside it currently lacks.

"John Odo will be a great addition to our team with his ability to defend in the post and rebound," Jones commented. "He will also be a great back-to-the-basket, low-post scorer that will give us a much needed true center."

LSU will lack true post players next season. Johnny O'Bryant, it's 6-foot-9 power forward, will be a junior. Odo would be the one true center. More than like, the Tigers will go with a team of versatile, interchangeable players such as Martin and Shavon Coleman, the 6-5 forward who scored 25 points in the Tigers' win over McNeese State Tuesday.

LSU is off to a 2-0 start in Jones' first season as head coach.