Fifteen time zones, a hemisphere and 8,975 miles separate Baton Rouge from the Australian city of Canberra. Stated another way, it’s helpful to have fax machines cover the distance when LSU accepts its sole letter of intent from center Darcy Malone on an otherwise quiet signing day for coach Johnny Jones and the Tigers.
In early February, the wispy Malone, a veteran of Australia’s Under-17 team, committed after an on-campus visit, rounding out a consensus top-15 class with ample depth in the front court after top-100 prospects Jarrell Martin, Jordan Mickey and junior college transfer John Odo sealed formal ties to the program.
Malone, who is 7-feet, 220 pounds, mimics the skill set of Martin and Mickey in that he can face-up away from the rim, is adept off the dribble and touts as a reliable jumper.
More importantly, the member of the 2012 FIBA World Championship silver medalists adds length to a roster that was largely deprived of that trait outside of All-SEC forward Johnny O’Bryant III and former walk-on center Andrew Del Piero.
With Malone in the fold and O’Bryant passing on the NBA draft, LSU bolstered its depth and added rangy length with a five-star prospect in Martin (6-9, 220) and a four-star talent in Mickey (6-7, 210) to allow the Tigers to amp up their pressure in the full court and the half court.
Meanwhile, Odo, a 6-10, 230-pound native of Nigeria, arrived in January from Hill College in Texas and sat out the second semester in order for the National Junior College Athletic Association All-American to have two seasons of eligibility. Last season at Hill, Odo and averaged 12.5 points and a nation-leading 14.3 rebounds, while ranking third nationally with and 4.7 blocked shots.
Landing Malone also signals the impact of assistant coach David Patrick on Jones’ staff.
Patrick, born in Bermuda and raised in Melbourne, Australia, was an exchange student who became the 1995 Louisiana Player of the Year after transferring to Chapel Trafton his senior year of high school. As an assistant at Saint Mary’s, he opened the school’s well-known pipeline down under.
Those ties and drawing Malone could prove critical in the next two years.
Patrick and LSU are actively pursuing 6-5 guard Dante Exum, who was the No. 18 recruit in the class of 2014 and Malone’s teammate at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Yet the true payoff could come in 2015, when Ben Simmons, another Malone teammate and a 6-8, 220-pound stretch forward, has to select a school.
In January, Simmons announced his intentions to play high school basketball at Montverde Academy, an elite program, in Florida. The move could have the impact of putting Simmons atop ranking boards as the top player in the class, and LSU chances could be helped by the fact Patrick is his godfather.