By Tom Benoit
July 14, 2013 12:20 PM

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Photo courtesy of SienaSaints.com

As a highly touted high school player in the Baltimore area, Lavon Long had a number of options in choosing where he would play after graduation. Originally recruited by Siena, Long had also received interest and scholarship offers from well over 20 schools. Loyola, Dayton, Fairfield, Kennesaw St., Rider, Robert Morris, and VCU all were in play but for Long, a 6-6 234 lb. guard/forward, he felt most comfortable choosing Loyola where he would play for Jimmy Patsos who recognized the versatility in his game.

“Lavon has a sneaky game,” Patsos said. “He can really handle the ball well. We expect him to rebound and lead the break. I love left handers, because they’re a different matchup. If I had to compare him to someone, it would be (Metta World Peace). He’s really a guard, but he can play forward because of his size. He has a really well-rounded game.”

Long, who averaged 15 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, 3 assists and 2.5 steals as a senior at Oakland Mills was again left to make a choice upon learning the news of Patsos’ move to Siena.

“When coach Patsos first left I was gonna just stay at Loyola because the assistant coach (GG Smith) took over and I was kind of comfortable with him,” Long said. “But, I would really rather have coach Patsos as my coach. So, I decided based off that. Then when I did finally come up I really liked the campus and the school so it was like an additional bonus that I have a good campus and a good coach and the team really fit me well.”

Fit in well indeed. Long brings a unique combination of size, with a college-ready body, along with sound ball handling and the ability to do it all on the court. Along with his ability he displays both a passion and a real joy for the game.

“I’m an all-around player,” said Long. “I do a lot of everything. I’m pretty goofy I do a lot of stuff you don’t expect. I take a lot of charges. I’m smiling all the time. I really enjoy it. I’d say I’m like a power piece, constantly attacking or whatever’s needed.”

Although Siena was not originally his choice, In a few short weeks he is adjusting well and speaks of a cohesive unit coming together for a team with alot of new pieces and a whole new coaching staff.

“Even with all the free time and the freedom you get during this time it’s rare to be by yourself because it’s such a chemistry, like a family mentality,” explained Long. “We’re always together. If someone is by themselves we try to go and get them and try to stay included in everybody’s lives so it’s really comfortable here.”

He along with his teammates seem to have taken a liking to their new coach, Patsos each referring to a balance of a business-like demeanor with comic relief.

“It comes off as scary sometimes just from the fact that he’ll make you laugh from the most serious conversation and you’re afraid to laugh cause you don’t know what the consequences will be for it,” said Long. “Other than that he’s just a great person and you can tell he cares about all his players. He’s always looking out. If anything bad happens he always says ‘Call me. Never hesitate.’ I really enjoy that I can have that kind of relationship with my coach.”

Although Long comes in as a well-rounded player, he knows there is work to be done and discusses his key areas of concentration for improvement.

“I’m always a slasher who goes to the basket more than take the shot so if anything I’m trying to work on a consistent jumper and crashing the boards all the time,” Long said.

Along with his new teammates, Long tells of how he has benefitted already from the opportunity to play pick up with former Saints including Kenny Hasbrouck, Ronald Moore, Ryan Rossiter and OD Anosike.

“Playing against them helps the whole team get better,” Long said. “If we can guard them then the people we’re guarding now shouldn’t be as difficult. It just helps with the experience base because they’ll do something you’ll never see in college really because they’ve passed that.”

Despite his impressive size and strength, Long is taking it to the next level and tells of how he has benefitted from the work in the weight room under strength and conditioning coach Dan Taylor.

“When I came here not only did he get you stronger but he gets you stronger for the court,” described Long. “It wasn’t just to get your body stronger, it’s to get you quicker, your first step more explosive. Everything he did was incorporated into basketball for you to be a maximum athlete.”

So as the summer session winds down and after a short break before practice begins to prepare for the Montreal trip, Long looks ahead with anticipation to the start of his first season as a Saint and a packed Times Union Center on opening night.

“I’m really looking forward to the 15,000 (fans) cause I’ve never had that before, said Long. “I’ve had a couple hundred but I’ve never had thousands and I think it’s going to be really exciting”.

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