To say that LSU’s been operating in a six-foot-and-under league of its own at point guard the past few seasons is not snarky or sarcastic. It’s just the plain truth.
Yes, the Tigers did sneak in 6-foot-3 Corban Collins for the 2012-13 campaign, but he parted ways with the program after just one season as a backup. The purple-and-gold mainstays at the point in the last three seasons: Anthony Hickey (5-foot-11) and Andre Stringer (5-foot-10).
By comparison, newcomer Tim Quarterman will look like a giraffe amongst zebras when stacked up with the rest of his backcourt teammates at the one.
Hailing from Savannah, Ga., Quarterman stands a legitimate 6-foot-6, and the freshman, who has the body to play several positions, made no bones about where he expects to spend most of his time on the court in TigerTown.
“Point guard,” Quarterman answered without hesitation, “because I like to pass the ball first and I just look for my teammates a lot. People on the returning team tell me I look for my teammates too much. So (I belong there) because of that and knowing I can control the flow of the game being at point.”
According to Quarterman, the fact that LSU told him he’d play point guard during the recruiting process was one of the biggest reasons he opted to sign with the Tigers over other schools that saw him more off the ball.
Now that he’s on campus, enrolled in summer courses and participating in open-gym pick-up games with the team, Quarterman admitted he spends time picking the brain of Hickey, LSU’s returning starter at point guard. “Of course I do, because he has experience in the SEC playing at point guard. I talk to him a lot about the position.”
It’s Quarterman’s hope that he’ll be able to take what he learns from Hickey and the coaching staff and combine that with the natural physical advantages he has at the position.
“My strengths? At the one, being bigger than other guards, definitely taller. And if somebody tries to put a taller guy on me, just going past that taller guard or forward,” explained Quarterman. “Also opening up the floor for my teammates, passing the ball and getting them into the game.”
The rangy, long-armed freshman also feels he’ll make a natural transition defensively from prep ball to the schemes Johnny Jones and LSU prefer.
“In AAU and high school, we played the same kind of defense as they do here at LSU,” Quarterman said. “Up-tempo, getting in the passing lanes, trying to get steals and run. So, yeah, we tried to do the same things.”
Quarterman did make sure to point out he doesn’t mind occasionally playing at the two, reminding that he did that with regularity on the high school level.
“I can play off the ball, but I want to mainly play point,” leveled Quarterman. “I know I could play off the ball, and Coach [Johnny Jones] talked to me about that. For now, it’s about working hard at everything. So if somebody wanted me to play off the ball, I could be versatile and do it. I did that a lot in high school, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
An alumni of the Atlanta Celtics AAU program, Quarterman is also pleased to have former UCLA assistant Korey McCray added to the LSU staff. For the newest Tiger guard, there are a lot of fond memories of the program McCray headed prior to his tenure in Westwood.
“When he was coaching for the Atlanta Celtics, I was a part of the younger group, with the 15-year-olds,” Quarterman recalled. “But I got to watch a lot of what he did with the older group, and they were very successful. He was a great coach and also a great person to talk to about anything. I was excited when I heard he was coming here.
“He’s a great mentor, just talking to him and also working out with the development of a player. Coaching-wise, he’s strong, but he’s also just a good dude. He’s somebody you can definitely go to and ask him, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ He’ll give you good pointers and shoot you straight.”
Quarterman then tabbed two former Atlanta Celtics now at UCLA as the primary players he looked up to within the AAU program.
“Yeah, there were a couple of people, like Jordan Adams,” said Quarterman. “He was a really good player for the Atlanta Celtics, and I got to talk to him a lot about the game. Then probably Tony Parker. I worked out with him a couple of times. He was a good dude. All of them put their trust in Coach Korey when they were in the Atlanta Celtics program, and they were very successful.”
In a moment of levity, Quarterman acknowledged that McCray did recruit him pretty heavily to UCLA. “Yes, but I never really considered it. It was too far. I knew my mom wasn’t ever going to let it happen. So I was like, ‘Hey, I can’t do anything about it.’”
And so now Quarterman begins his journey at LSU, reunited with a coach he thought he’d never play for and playing a position other places told him he couldn’t. Maybe that’s why Quarterman smiled from ear-to-ear throughout his debut press conference on Tuesday.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Quarterman said of why he ultimately chose LSU. “I knew that if I came in and worked hard, I could make a difference.”