LSU 7-footer Del Piero’s journey
by Glenn Guilbeau, USA TODAY Sports
BATON ROUGE – Former LSU basketball great Collis Temple II deserved and received a lot of the credit for helping assemble LSU’s 2006 Final Four team with local kids Glen Davis, Tyrus Thomas, Tasmin Mitchell and his son Garrett Temple.
But the former AAU coach who was on Coach Dale Brown’s original LSU team in the 1972-73 season did not stop there. After coaching Davis, Thomas, Mitchell and his son when they were youths in AAU ball in Baton Rouge, all Temple did to help get 7-foot-3 center Andrew Del Piero to the Tigers was go to one of his favorite restaurants just off the LSU campus.
It was the spring of 2009 – the second semester of Del Piero’s freshman year at LSU. But Del Piero had not played basketball since 2005, which was his freshman year at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. Westlake High produced New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Del Piero was familiar with football fields, too, but as a tuba player the previous fall during halftime of Tiger football games with the LSU band. Still, he was 7-foot-3, and Temple, a 6-8, All-Southeastern Conference center in 1974, knows that kind of height can find a home on a basketball court regardless of what kind of instrument it may play.
“It was just kind of random that I ran into Collis Temple at the Chimes restaurant,” Del Piero said this week as his last regularly scheduled LSU home game – at 12:30 today against Ole Miss – approached. “I didn’t know who he was. I kind of felt like an idiot later. And I sort of said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ to him at the time. But it stayed in the back of my head.”
Del Piero feels very smart now about his decision to eventually ditch the tuba for a basketball, though. After walking onto the team a year later in the 2010-11 season and eventually leaving the band a semester later, he finds himself as a vital part of an LSU team within one win of finishing above .500 in the SEC for the first time in four … [For more on Tubas to basketballs: LSU 7-footer Del Piero's journey, click here.]