After guiding Loyola to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994, life has been undeniably good for Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos.
Between speaking engagements, playing in charity golf tournaments and making the occasional radio or television appearance, Patsos has been a busy man since the Greyhounds fell to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. But basketball has remained the No. 1 priority, and there’s plenty of optimism on Cold Spring Lane for another big year.
Patsos has welcomed six freshmen to Loyola this summer: St. Frances center Josh Forney, John Carroll forward Jarred Jones, Gonzaga (D.C.) forward Will Rassman, Westwind Prep (Ariz.) guard Damion Rashford, Polytech (Del.) wing Eric Laster and Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) walk-on point guard Sean Tuohy Jr. (the adopted brother of Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher).
Those six freshmen will join sophomore point guard R.J. Williams (St. Frances), junior combo guard Dylon Cormier (Cardinal Gibbons), senior wing Bobby Olson, senior power forward Erik Etherly, junior center Jordan Latham (City), senior forward Anthony Winbush, senior center Julius Brooks and redshirt freshman shooting guard Tyler Hubbard on the Greyhounds’ 2012-13 roster.
Patsos spoke to The Sun this week about Loyola’s incoming class and the team’s prospects for the upcoming season.
What has changed for you since last season, specifically on the recruiting trail?
We’re still recruiting the same type of kid, still have summer school, still have summer camp. It’s just doing your job. It’s nice, but when the new kids got here June 5, that’s officially a new year – that’s how we look at it. We’re moving on. It’s nice, we own it, and that’s great. But you’ve got to worry about the next year with the way basketball is now going. We have a new team. Shane Walker is playing in Greece and J’Hared Hall graduated. I went to [former player] Andre Collins’ wedding. [Former Greyhounds forward] Michael Tuck is still playing in England. By the time June comes around, you’ve got all the new guys. So you get five new [scholarship] guys, and that’s a lot. I’m worrying about getting those guys acclimated to the school. This summer was also different because we could have practices, so that was nice.
Let’s start with the incoming freshmen. Josh Forney, the center from St. Frances, was one of your first commitments. What do you see in him?
He’s got great size. He will most likely redshirt, unless something drastic changes. He’s a good player – reminds me of Rick Mahorn. He’s kind of a bruiser, a thick kid. He’s an inside guy, a hard-working type of guy. But with Julius Brooks and Jordan Latham at the 5, we wouldn’t want to waste the year. He’ll most likely redshirt – knock on wood that will happen. But so far he looks good.
The other local guy is Jarred Jones from John Carroll. What type of role do you envision for him?
He’s going to play some 3 and some 4. He’s like Erik Etherly. He’s kind of an inside player with a lot of guard skills, so that’s good. He’s done fine when we had some practices. He’s just catching up to the speed of the game. But obviously, coming from the Baltimore Catholic League and being a first-team [BCL and Baltimore Sun All-Metro] player, he’s coming prepared from the high school level. He’s had great high school coaching and it shows. In practice, he was ready to go. So that’s a credit to his league and his coach. He was good; a guy who can help us off the bench.
Will Rassman had a strong senior year at Gonzaga. What do you think of him so far?
Rassman is similar to Jarred Jones. Remember, freshmen should be concerned with the invisible stats. I want freshmen to take charges, play good defense and get deflections, things like that. Hustle plays. Lots of times freshmen are confused and think, ‘I’ll be the man right away.’ You play as a freshman for invisible stats. Will Rassman is that kind of guy. Coming from Gonzaga, it’s like Jarred Jones from John Carroll. Will Rassman starting at Gonzaga and Jarred Jones as a first-team All-Baltimore Catholic League [player]. Both are great programs. Those guys are going to play some minutes this year.
Laster was Delaware’s player of the year. What has impressed you about him?
He’s young but he’s got talent. Watching a few practices, he’s a late bloomer but has a lot of talent, and he can score. He’s a scorer. Scorers have a funny way of getting on the court. He’s a 2/3. Rashford and Laster are 2/3s, both scorers. We’ll see who can adjust quicker. Damion Rashford played in Canada and Laster is from Delaware, a small state. Both have talent, both can score. I’m interested to see which of those guys can play. I need another scorer.