Leonard Livingston

Leonard Livingston (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam / March 28, 2012)

Kevin Norris was in the Lake Clifton stands Jan. 27 when Patterson battled Largo in a Basketball Academy matchup. On the court that night for the Clippers was a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking machine that quickly caught the Florida Gulf Coast assistant’s eye.

“I had a pretty good game,” said Patterson senior Leonard Livingston. “Norris, he just said that they were interested. They wanted to see how the rest of our season would go. [He wanted to] try to get [me] down there anytime.”

Livingston wasn’t familiar with Florida Gulf Coast, but he liked Norris – a Lake Clifton grad and former Miami point guard – and continued on with his senior season. On Sunday, after an official visit to FGCU’s Fort Myers campus, Livingston reciprocated Norris’ initial interest with a commitment.

“It just felt like a good fit for me,” said Livingston, who picked the Eagles over The Citadel and Tennessee-Chattanooga. “And then I just decided to go ahead and do it.”

A 6-foot-10, 190-pound forward, Livingston grew up in D.C. and spent his junior season at St. James near Hagerstown. Shakir Brown, a good friend who played for St. Frances, convinced Livingston to join him at Patterson for their senior year. Livingston moved in with a cousin in Baltimore and signed up to play for Harry Martin’s Clippers squad.

“Just his height in the city reminded me of [Loyola forward] Jordan Latham a couple years ago when he was at City,” Martin said. “You don’t have too many tall guys in the city. That was the first thing that stood out about him. He had a great GPA. He does exactly what you tell him to do. Those types of things stand out.”

Livingston proved to be a coachable big man who made a difference for the Clippers on the defensive end almost immediately. Martin said the future Eagle averaged roughly eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks for Patterson. Livingston was especially effective at Comcast Center, blocking 20 total shots in the Clippers’ semifinal victory and Class 3A championship-game win.

“He’s got the kind of upside right away as a freshman to come in and get rebounds and block shots,” Martin said. “I thought as last season went along, he was really a key for us to win the state title. He blocked so many shots and changed so many shots in the lane.”

Said Livingston: “They wanted me to kind of play like a power forward. They want me to score in the post, but they also want me to do a few things on the wing. I can do both. They were going to get me on a weight program. They’re trying to get me bigger, too.”

Livingston, who also received interest from Central Connecticut, Delaware State and Morgan State, got a seal of approval on Florida Gulf Coast from Eagles sophomore Eric McKnight. The Iowa State transfer teamed up with Livingston two years ago at Princeton Day Academy in Lanham.

“[McKnight] told me it was a good school and that he liked it,” Livingston said. “He said he liked it and he was excited [for me] to come down to the school.”

McKnight and Norris aren’t the only Eagles with local ties. FGCU coach Andy Enfield is Johns Hopkins’ all-time leading scorer.

FGCU, an Atlantic Sun program, finished 15-17 in 2011-12. Livingston said he’s excited to be the latest Maryland player amidst the “palm trees and a lot of water” in Fort Myers.

“I just liked everything about it. It’s completely different from here,” Livingston said. “My expectation is to go there and work hard. That’s really the biggest thing. I want to go there and work hard.”