A New Jersey native, Lisa Long chose to play her college basketball at Iowa, a decision to leave her comfort zone that paid off with an All-Big Ten team selection in 1987 and a professional career in Europe.
Long, now a Columbia resident, had always hoped her only son would take a similar college path, getting away from home to expand his horizons. But when Oakland Mills senior Lavon Long sifted through his 20 basketball scholarship offers and decided he wanted to stay in state and play at Loyola University in Baltimore, she had seen enough to approve of the pick.
“Most coaches, I found, wanted [Lavon] for his size, just because he had the body, but they didn’t want to give him credit for his other skills,” Long said. “I tried to sell him as more than just a big guy, and Patsos saw that and believed that.”
When Patsos bolted for Siena College earlier this month, Lavon Long and his mother came to a quick agreement that the 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward needed to re-evaluate his options. Long filed the necessary paperwork with the school to get a full release from his national letter of intent. He will be able to play at another school right away next season with the switch to Siena a distinct possibility, according to his mother.
Lisa Long said the release from Loyola became official on Monday, three days after former assistant G.G. Smith replaced Patsos. She added that while Smith did not play a large role in her son’s recruitment, she did speak with the first-time head coach by phone on Saturday night before the release became final.
Now Lavon Long, a fourth-team All-Met this season, is back on the open market for the first time since making it official with Loyola during the early signing period in November.
Lisa Long said Lavon has tentatively scheduled an official visit to Siena on April 24. Before inking with the Greyhounds, Lavon Long had already made four official visits, so this will be his final trip that can be paid for by the school under NCAA rules. In addition to Loyola, he also visited Kennesaw State, Wagner and Rider.
Lisa Long still believes that Patsos’ system provides the right fit for her son on the court. She said the coach views Lavon Long as a small forward or point forward rather than an undersized post player at the next level.
Long transferred to Oakland Mills this year after three seasons at Mount St. Joseph, in part, because he had played strictly center for the Gaels and wanted a chance to showcase his full skill set.
Long took advantage in leading the Scorpions to a 24-1 record this winter, averaging a team-best 15 points per game. He proved he could be an outside threat in drilling 14 three-pointers and occasionally ran the point for short stretches.
“It was a good fit,” Oakland Mills Coach Jon Browne said. “It worked out well for all parties. He’s a great kid. I really wish I had him around for another year.”
Lisa Long said she’s ready to dip into her own funds to pay for more visits if her son doesn’t find the right fit at Siena, but she wanted to make sure Patsos got the first chance to make his pitch.
“They want to get him in right away and see if they can sell Siena like they sold Loyola,” Lisa Long said.
She later added, “I told Patsos they’ve got to hit a home run. He said they’ve got it.”
Long wouldn’t be the first former Loyola recruit to follow Patsos to Siena. Guard Maurice White of St. Frances in Baltimore pulled back his oral commitment to the Greyhounds amid rumors of the coach’s exit and then last week became the first oral commitment at Siena under Patsos.
North Point All-Met Marquis Wright is the other local player who has signed with Loyola. On Sunday afternoon, Walter Wright said his son had not yet decided whether to seek a release from his national letter of intent and hoped to have an answer by midweek.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
NUMBER CRUNCH: 6
The number of consecutive wins for the eighth-ranked Flint Hill baseball team after it edged Robinson, 4-3, in nonleague action on Monday night. The youthful Huskies are now 12-2 overall and remain a perfect 4-0 in MAC play so far.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY:
The top spot in the WCAC boys’ lacrosse standings is at stake in Fairfax this afternoon. The top-ranked Eagles (11-2) have not dropped a conference game since 2009, but the Panthers (11-1) are off to a strong start this year with their lone loss so far coming at No. 2 Landon late last month.