March 28, 2012

Ole Miss offer gets Swilling's attention

Twin Falls, Idaho, is a long way from New Orleans, both literally and figuratively.

However, for Patrick Swilling, the time at the College of Southern Idaho has served him well - and perhaps set up an opportunity to move much closer to home.

"It's different from home, but I came up here to do a job," said Swilling, a 6-foot-3, 211-pound shooting guard and the son of legendary former New Orleans Saints linebacker Pat Swilling. "It ended up being a good move for me. We have a good program, good players and it's a place that competes for championships."

Swilling, a two-sport star at New Orleans' Brother Martin, signed with St. Joseph's out of high school and played in 23 games, averaging 11.5 minutes, 1.4 points and 1.1 assists per game for Phil Martelli's club.

He ultimately transferred to Southern Idaho, where he helped lead his team to a 31-5 record, averaging 12.3 points and more than two assists per game.

"I was just really focused on trying to win. At the beginning of the season, we had one goal in mind - get back to Hutch (the junior college national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.) and repeat.

"At St. Joe's, I learned a lot about the speed of the game and what it takes to be good. I learned a lot from the coaches and older players up there about how to prepare myself mentally and physically. At CSI, I've expanded my game. I can drive and shoot, use my body to get in the lane. I've been trying to expand my game to get as good as I can."

Several schools have noticed, including Ole Miss, which scouted Swilling and teammate Fabyon Harris in Hutchinson last week. The Rebels recently extended a scholarship offer, and Andy Kennedy and Co. certainly have Swilling's attention.

"Actually, I know a lot about the campus and everything from dealing with football recruiting and all that," Swilling said. "At the end of my senior year, they started recruiting me for basketball. I saw Coach Kennedy at Hutch. One of their assistants saw us the week before. Everything is going pretty well."

Swilling, who averaged more than 19 points per game at the national tournament, is also getting interest from Colorado, Appalachian State, Boston College, UNLV and others.

"A lot of things changed since Hutch, so we'll see," Swilling said.

Swilling said the Rebels' offer of proximity to home is "a factor. I have a younger brother who just started high school. I want to see him play and have him see me play. It's a factor but I'm not afraid to play anywhere. I've been from Philly to Idaho the last two years, but being closer to home would be cool, too."

During his time in Hutchinson, Swilling checked out Ole Miss commitment Marshall Henderson, who helped lead his South Plains (Texas) College team to the national title.

"I think we would complement each other well," Swilling said. "Neither of us are selfish. He's not the biggest guy, but he's tough, man. He's a great shooter. He can also penetrate and pull up. He's sneaky athletic. I'm more of a bigger guard. I can score in the paint and finish off contact or set up and shoot off the kick."

Swilling said he doesn't have a timetable to make a decision, but he doesn't want to wait too long.

"I'm not going to rush it, but I'm going to try to get it done," Swilling said. "I think I'm just going to go with who wants me right now. I'll probably take two or three visits, weigh my options and then make the decision with my family."

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