Will Ben Simmons’ Godfather Open Australian Recruiting Pipeline for Hogs?

David Patrick

It’s no secret that Eric Musselman is one of Arkansas basketball’s biggest attractions. His passion on the court and genuine nature off the court have already assisted in landing one of the highest ranked recruiting classes in Razorbacks history. Less than a month after his new freshmen moved onto campus, Musselman was already back to work filling out his coaching staff by hiring another proven recruiter, David Patrick.

Arkansas Ties

Patrick began his collegiate career in Syracuse in 1995, mere months after Corliss Williamson and company knocked Boeheim’s Orange out of the NCAA Tournament. In a recent interview on The Buzz, Patrick acknowledges the irony in Syracuse coaches visiting him days after the Hogs eliminated them.

More important to his new situation, Patrick has experience coaching under Musselman. Patrick was previously an assistant coach at LSU from 2012-2016, along with assistant coaching stints at Nicholls State, St. Mary’s, and TCU. During the 2014-15 season, Musselman was hired to be the Associate Head Coach at LSU, the same position Patrick will now assume at Arkansas. Regardless of official position, it was impossible for Patrick to not take notice of Coach Musselman. “First and foremost, you can see from the minute you meet him how competitive he is as a person and a coach, and we all are, but he has another level.”

This previous connection played a huge role in Patrick leaving a Division 1 head coaching position to join Musselman’s staff at Arkansas.

International Ties

David Patrick was most recently the head coach at UC Irvine from 2018-2020, where he now holds the school’s all-time best two year start for a coach. Just as important to his well-traveled coaching career is his experience playing overseas.

Patrick was born in Bermuda and raised in Melbourne, Australia. He played basketball there growing up until he moved to Baton Rouge for his senior year of high school. Patrick played one season for Syracuse. He then finished his collegiate career in Louisiana before setting his sights back home in the Australian NBL.

The National Basketball League, one of the most competitive leagues outside of America and Europe, was Patrick’s first professional home. He played for the Canberra Cannons in the 2000-2001 season. Little did he know that his time in Australia, both before and after college, would affect his coaching career the way it did.

Catch the entire Buzz 103.7 interview here:

Collegiate Recruiting

David Patrick is credited with recruiting eventual No. 1 NBA Draft pick Ben Simmons, an Australian native, to LSU. At the time, Simmons was the top high school prospect in the world. Patrick and Simmons’ father, Dave, had been friends since Patrick was a teenager growing up in Melbourne.

A New York City native, Dave Simmons had played college ball in the states and bits of pro ball in central and South America before moving to Australia to play professionally in the late ‘80s. This is where he met David Patrick.

“We trained together when I first got to Australia and David was still just a kid,” Dave Simmons said. “David lived with us for a while and has always been like another son to us and a brother to my children. We consider him family.”

Simmons’ college decision was aided by the fact that Patrick was his Godfather, but the international tie doesn’t stop there.

Patrick is still an assistant coach for the Australian Men’s National Basketball team and keeps in contact with other coaches, families, and recruits that could aid him in finding the next Australian gem. That nation has produced seven NBA Draft first round picks including two  No. 1 overall picks in Simmons and Andrew Bogut (technically three if you count Kyrie Irving, who was born in Melbourne). 

The hope of many Hog fans is that Patrick will draw a top-rated Australian recruit to join the Hogs.

Olgun Oluc, a longtime reporter for ESPN Australia, says that’s a real possibility. 

Patrick “is the best recruiter of Australian talent, period. I don’t think that’s even a conversation,” he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “He did it at Saint Mary’s, then LSU, then TCU, and obviously at UC Riverside most recently. At Riverside, he helped lift the program to what was a successful final season for him at the school.”

Indeed, below are all the Australian players that David Patrick has recruited to play college ball in the U.S. Two of the most notable players are highlighted.

Uluc elaborated on Patrick’s work ethic on the recruiting trail: “He’s just developed such a wide-ranging network in Australia,” Uluc told reporter Richard Davenport. “He’s from Melbourne and is able to find those diamonds out of nowhere. He does the legwork, especially with the Sudanese-Australian community out here, so he’s usually the first coach to reach out to rising players, which obviously gives him an advantage from a recruiting standpoint.”

The Pipeline Begins?

Patrick has hit the ground running.

Within a week of his hiring at Arkansas, he’s already made offers to two Australian prospects.

The first offer was to David Okwera, a versatile 6’11” forward in the 2021 class. Okwera is an incredibly long athlete whose length and potential make him a prospect worth watching. He plays with a raw athleticism that is hard to stop at the high school level, and could become truly lethal with the right coaching and development through college.

His length and mobility is comparable to that of former Razorback big man, Daniel Gafford. While Okwera has a soft touch around the rim and the length to block shots like Gafford, he does not play with the same type of aggression or strength that Gafford possessed. However, he has shown flashes of ball handling, passing abilities and post moves that Gafford did not display in college. Watch Okwera rain down over-the-rim terror on helpless bystanders in the footage below:.

YouTube video

The second offer went to 2022 6’5″ combo guard Dyson Daniels. Daniels has a picture perfect shooting stroke, comparable to that of Isaiah Joe. Every time he catches a pass, his feet are set and his shoulders are squared before the ball even hits his hands. A stroke like that combined with ball handling capabilities, a 6’7″ wingspan, and defensive potential is enough to make any scout drool. Below is a quick highlight reel featuring his catch & shoot ability and some dribble drive potential.

Travis Branham of 247 sports quoted Daniels discussing Arkansas: “Coach [Eric] Musselman has been talking to me. He’s been sending me things about their facilities, how they like to play, and stuff like that. He’s been really engaged and sending me messages like every second day.”

For CBS Sports Video highlights of Daniels, go here.

Patrick’s recruiting ties paired with Musselman’s relentless work ethic is a duo that should put the league on notice. Musselman has already started building his ideal squad, and his recruiting pool to choose from just got a lot bigger.


For more on David Patrick’s relationship with Ben Simmons, see this:

YouTube video


Author: Brandon Baker

Contributor and Senior Writer for overtimeheroics.net

Twitter: @Panamaniac03 and @OTHArkansas

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