Mount Saint Joseph High School, located in Baltimore, Maryland, has had its fair share of success in hoops over the years. Head coach Pat Clatchey has been coaching at the Baltimore school for 19 years, coached up and coached against serious talent, and even coached in the McDonald's All-American game. On Monday, I got a chance to speak with Coach Clatchey about one of his talented up-and-comers, sophomore forward Lavon Long.
Lavon Long, a 6'6 225-pound sophomore at the Baltimore school, started 15 games this year for Coach Clatchey. Lavon's physique belies the fact that he is only a 16 year old sophomore who still has next to no facial hair. In fact, his coach compared his build and attitude on the court to former University of North Carolina star Julius Peppers. Long is an athletic lefty who, according to his coach, has a chance to be a "premier-level rebounder" for a number of reasons. His strength, length, and desire to fight for loose balls allow him to rebound in heavy traffic.
Lavon has a quick first step that allows him to beat opponents both off the dribble and to loose balls. That quickness allows him to defend the perimeter, while his strength enables him to match up in the post against taller players. Lavon's hunger for the ball is also one of his biggest areas for improvement at the moment. Coach Clatchey explained that Lavon needs to use better discretion, not picking up quick fouls as he can be prone to do. With continued experience and coaching, that energy will be harnessed and Lavon will learn to keep himself from the ticky-tack fouls.
On the offensive side of the ball, Lavon is able to hit jumpers from 15 to 17 feet. In the post, he utilizes a lefty jump hook, but needs to continue working on finishing with his off-hand. Lavon is also able to push the ball after getting a rebound on the defensive end, handling the ball well for a big guy. Around the bucket, Lavon is active and looks to throw down whenever possible. At the moment, he is an adequate free throw shooter, but that is another area where he will look to improve over the summer..
While Coach Clatchey and I did not get into specifics when it comes to Lavon's recruitment, he indicated to me that Lavon is currently an A-10 or CAA caliber power forward. His strength is defending and rebounding the basketball. However, if Lavon grows another two inches, that will really open things up for him in terms of a future. Basketball also runs in Lavon's genes, as his mother, Lisa Long, played collegiately at Iowa for Vivian Stringer, and then played professionally in Europe.
This past weekend, Lavon and his high school team attended Richmond's Elite Camp, where he opened some eyes with his tenacious, athletic play. That play is certain to garner him accolades at both the high school and college levels. Lavon will team up again next year at Mount Saint Joseph's with a talented young core that also features highly-regarded 2013 shooting guard Kameron Williams.
With his skill set, size, athleticism, and tremendous coaching that he will receive at Mount Saint Joseph, look for Lavon Long not to remain under the radar much longer.