Loyola University men’s basketball coach Jimmy Patsos’ decision to leave the Baltimore school to take the same position at Siena College has forced several local high school standouts to rethink their college futures.
The two local players who have signed for the Class of 2013, Oakland Mills forward Lavon Long and North Point point guard Marquis Wright, were taking different approaches to the news on Wednesday. Long said in a phone interview that he’d already been granted his freedom to seek an opportunity elsewhere, while Wright continues to watch the situation, according to his father.
Long, the Howard County Player of the Year, signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Greyhounds during the early signing period in November, but he confirmed on Wednesday that the school has granted him a full release from that agreement without any restrictions.
The 6-foot-7 forward said he’d not talked with Patsos directly but added that his mother, Lisa, has maintained contact with the former University of Maryland assistant in recent days.
Long indicated he would consider following Patsos to Siena, a school he made an unofficial visit to last summer, but was unsure if that would be an option. He said he had not heard from any other college coaches as of noon on Wednesday and had yet to identify any potential suitors.
“I’m not trying to go too far, stay kind of close to home and find a good team,” Long said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Wright’s father, Walter, said his son had not asked for his release from Loyola, which competed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season but will move to the Patriot League in the fall.
A 6-foot point guard who led the team to three straight Maryland 4A East titles, Wright was still examining his options on the afternoon Patsos was introduced at Siena and expected to make a decision within a few days, according to his father. Walter Wright said he’d kept contact with Patsos assistant Luke D’Alessio and indicated the family would closely watch the school’s search for a replacement.
“As of now, nothing’s changed,” Walter Wright said. “We’re kind of waiting it out. We want to talk to everybody before making a decision one way or the other.”
Interestingly, Wright’s godfather and longtime AAU basketball coach is Steve Jiggetts, father of McNamara senior Stephan Jiggetts. The younger Jiggetts had already signed to play at Siena under former Coach Mitch Buonaguro, who was fired last month after three seasons at the Loudounville, New York school.
“I really don’t know [Patsos] as a coach,” Stephan Jiggetts said, “but I knew he recruited [Wright], and I’ve heard a lot of good things about him.”
Patsos had also secured an oral commitment to Loyola from Georgetown Prep senior Mike Wolfe, but the 6-foot-9 forward had not signed and de-committed late last month, in part because of the uncertainty surrounding the coach.
Georgetown Prep Coach Herb Krusen said Wolfe, who won’t turn 18 until this summer, had been interested in red-shirting during his first year of college to continue his development, and the Patriot League only allows players to redshirt for medical reasons.
George Wolfe said his son is “leaning toward” taking a prep year at South Kent School in Connecticut, but he’s not closed the door on signing elsewhere.
“With that extra year, I think he’d be in high demand,” said Krusen, whose daughter Nicole is a junior on the Loyola women’s basketball team. “Mike’s really good. I don’t think you’d say there’s anybody in the area with more potential for a young big guy.”
George Wolfe said he’s taken calls from Duquesne and Wagner in the past week, and yesterday received received word from a Patsos assistant that the coach has interest in bringing Michael Wolfe to Siena. He took three official visits before picking Loyola, meaning he has two left.