Live Oak football Jalen Lee

Live Oak defensive lineman Jalen Lee (92) had narrowed his list of finalists to 10 before selecting LSU on June 19.

It was a recent 24-hour period that reverberated around Livingston Parish.

Especially if you’re a fan of LSU athletics.

That’s when two of the nation’s best – who were born and raised in Livingston Parish – decided to bring their respective recruiting processes to a halt and remain within a 30-minute proximity of home.

That meant Jalen Lee of Live Oak High School and Walker High’s Jalen Cook were bound for LSU, each announcing via their own social media accounts.

Local fans rejoiced.

Livingston Parish has some of the most ardent LSU fans with purple and gold blood pumping through their veins and the fact that Lee and Cook committed to play football and basketball, respectively, was akin to hitting the lottery.

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They’ve always had a reason to cheer for the Tigers in a variety of sports, regardless of where the athletes were from. The fact that Lee and Cook would eventually be wearing LSU uniforms and representing the Tigers in competition was enough reason to stand up and cheer.

Lee and Cook, albeit a year away from slipping into those aforementioned jerseys and colors, gave those same fans additional incentive to yell even louder.

Lee and Cook will be representing those same people who will be further connected because of the geographic area they share, and the pride Livingston Parish’s vibrant population will be beaming with once they step foot on the football field and basketball court.

It’s not often – if ever – Livingston Parish can boast having athletes simultaneously representing LSU’s two biggest sports. Throw in Denham Springs High graduate Cade Doughty, who will be an incoming freshman this fall and is expected to challenge for a starting infield position.

He will be on the same LSU team next season with his older brother Braden, a reserve catcher.

Livingston Parish already has three other athletes entrenched in their respective sports – high jumper Abby O’Donoghue and pole vaulter Cameron Reed of Denham Springs along with sophomore DSHS graduate Makenzie Maher in soccer.

Moreover, parish MVP Tiara Young of Walker High – also voted Miss Basketball and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year – is already on campus, going through the offseason with the Lady Tigers and preparing for her freshman season

The June 18-19 commitments respectively from Lee and Cook have been conversation pieces for Live Oak High and Walker High producing their first-ever LSU commitments in those sports.

That in itself galvanizes the ties that bind and adds to the novelty of a parish that can’t wait to wrap its collective arms around their future Tigers.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Lee has created quite a stir at his school’s campus in Watson with not only the number of college recruiters that have stepped foot on Live Oak’s campus, but the schools they’ve represented ranging from LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma.

Lee, who received a scholarship offer from LSU in January, had narrowed his finalists to 10 schools with the intention of taking all of five of official visits and naming his school of choice in the fall.

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Walker High School's Jalen Cook was selected the All-Parish MVP for the third straight year.

LSU went on a run of defensive line commitments, garnering pledges – one from Louisiana and another from Alabama – two days before Lee, who is capable of dominating the line or scrimmage, called LSU coach Ed Orgeron at 10:30 p.m. June 18 to secure his spot in the Tigers nationally ranked Class of 2020.

The same holds true for Cook, who as a two-sport standout, had to first choose a sport (basketball) before selecting a school where he becomes the first basketball player from Livingston Parish to commit to LSU since current Tigers assistant coach Tasmin Mitchell of Denham Springs.

That was a decade ago, showing just how exceptional a talent Cook has been over the course of his career. The three-time parish MVP was a driving force Walker’s first Class 5A state championship two years ago and managed to surpass all of his statistics from that season in helping the Wildcats to a state runner-up finish last season.

Cook averaged nearly 30 points per game, earning the Class 5A MVP and Gatorade Player of the Year honors. Cook recently participated in the NBPA Top 100 camp in Charlottesville, Va., where he competed favorably against the nation’s top players.

Two days after returning home, Cook committed to third-year basketball coach Will Wade, becoming the first member of LSU’s Class of 2020 and first player from Walker High to achieve such a distinction.

He’ll have the opportunity to make it official with his signature in November, a four-month span that can’t pass soon enough for LSU fans, especially those rooted at home in Livingston Parish.

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