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Friday, February 8, 2013
Cleaning out the notebook

By Dave Telep

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.

Jarrell Martin
LSU signee Jarrell Martin is having a monster senior season.
Eye of the Tiger

ESPN 100 power forward and LSU signee Jarrell Martin (Baton Rouge, La./Madison Prep) has one of those unique stories. He barely played his first two years, hasn’t been the most vocal guy and really lets his game do the talking.

As a senior, Martin has been pretty loud.

“He’s gotten a lot better with that verbal part,” Madison Prep coach Jeff Jones said. “He’s a more vocal leader. Last year he sat back and smiled. This year he sees now that if we’re going to win a state title he had to step up and be verbal. Those guys are all looking at him.”

Martin is surrounded by underclassmen at Madison Prep, so it’s his job to step up. How’s 26 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and four blocks per game for a 35-3 team? Sounds like a guy who should receive his share of all-star game invites.

Martin, the No. 15 overall prospect in the ESPN 100, is LSU’s No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class and looks like a cornerstone guy. Think a souped-up version of former Florida State star Chris Singleton and an even better rebounder. LSU coach Johnny Jones knows what he has on his hands.

We make calls all year long on players. This one, well, it had all the markers of a stud recruit coming into his own. Expect big things from Martin.

Speaking of LSU...

Australian 7-footer Darcy Malone committed to LSU this week. It’s not a commitment that came with much fanfare, but there’s always a back story. Last summer, Malone played a handful of minutes per game for the Aussie 17-and-under squad.

Here’s where it gets interesting. On that Australian team was junior guard Dante Exum, who recently visited Indiana, and elite sophomore power forward Ben Simmons, who is headed to Montverde Academy (Fla.) next year.

Getting the picture? LSU cracked open the Aussie pipeline with Malone. How’d the Tigers do it? Assistant coach David Patrick.

Patrick was instrumental in helping St. Mary’s recruit Australians like point guard Patty Mills. Patrick lived in Australia, played there and he’s now wired into the next wave of hoopsters. While Exum could be a stretch for the Tigers, expect to hear their name mentioned prominently with Simmons.

Word on Jordan

Sometimes the crystal ball is clear, other times it’s foggy. With Rysheed Jordan (Philadelphia/Vaux Roberts), there’s never been a clear-cut favorite. It seems that St. John’s, Temple and UCLA have taken turns.

For the longest time, UCLA was a little bit of a novelty item. Jordan has a large family and it would be difficult to imagine him going 3,000 miles from home.

However, this week (subject to change, of course) I’ll go UCLA first, St. John’s second and Temple third. If the Bruins have a defection or two to the NBA, I’ve been told that would strengthen their position.

Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett has exceeded expectations as a freshman at UNLV.
Hindsight is dangerous in this biz

One of the difficulties in the evaluation business as a chosen career path is living with your decisions. As a staff, we spent six hours on the phone on Thursday discussing mainly seniors for next week’s player rankings update. Locking down our top 10 was a big deal. We had some spirited conversations about it, too. It was fun. Next time we should tape it.

That got me thinking: If given the chance for a mulligan with the Class of 2012, what would it look like? Here’s my gut reaction to what I wish our top five was last year. I looked at only guys who finished in our 2012 top 10 for this exercise.

1. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (we nailed this)

2. Anthony Bennett, UCLA (he’s outplayed expectations)

3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (what more is there to say?)

4. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (ups and down, but the ups have been pretty good)

5. Isaiah Austin, Baylor (still tantalized by his skill set)

Recruiting cannibalism: ODU’s signees

Old Dominion assistant Jim Corrigan, a man who has the strong support of his peers in the profession, took the reins of the program after Blaine Taylor was fired this week. Corrigan has two jobs: win and stay alive with ODU’s three 2013 signees.

The guy most likely to be the target of other mid-major squads is power forward Denzell Taylor (Toronto, Ontario/St. Benedict’s Prep). He has a good motor and that’s significant even if he’s 6-6, maybe 6-7.

Speaking of the Monarchs. You’re going to hear the name Dennis Felton. The former Western Kentucky and Georgia coach is now director of pro player personnel with the San Antonio Spurs. ODU athletic director Wood Selig is a big fan and the two worked together at Western Kentucky.