2014-2015 Overall Rank: #80
Conference Rank: #7 SEC
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Inconsistency was the theme for LSU last season; beating quality teams such as Kentucky and St. Joseph’s, and losing to poor opponents like Texas A&M and Alabama. They sat on the bubble for a majority of last year, but were shipped to the NIT. It’s been five years since the Tigers made the NCAA Tournament and many think the Tigers can be a dark horse in the SEC. With the departures of Johnny O’Bryant and Anthony Hickey, Johnny Jones will have to rely on his young talent if LSU has a chance to qualify for the Big Dance.
2013 Record: 20-14, 9-9
2013-2014 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Johnny Jones
Coach Record: 39-26 at LSU, 244-188 overall
LSU is losing their top contributor from the last few seasons: Johnny O’Bryant III. JOB3 declared for the NBA Draft after averaging 15.4 points per game in his junior year. That was thought to be the only big loss for LSU, until head coach Johnny Jones announced that Anthony Hickey and Malik Morgan would not be returning to the team next season. Hickey’s father later came out and said that his son’s scholarship would not be renewed. This was shocking and devastating for LSU fans as Hickey was a key part of the team after starting 85 games at point guard the last three seasons. Morgan was known for his consistency shooting the three. LSU also lost Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman, who were seniors. It will be extremely hard for Johnny Jones to replace the duo of O’Bryant and Hickey, so LSU’s youth will have to step up.
LSU picked up a huge commit in 4-star center Elbert Robinson. Standing at 7-1, he will provide much needed bulk at the center position after the departure of O’Bryant. Coach Johnny Jones calls him a true center, and he will be a key player down low for the Tigers. Also coming to Baton Rouge is junior college star, Josh Gray. He led the juco ranks last season with 33.8 points per game and will replace Hickey at point guard. Not to mention, he scored 61 points and 59 points in his last two juco games. LSU also picked up 3-star center Aaron Epps, that will back up Robinson and 3-star guard Jalyn Patterson that is expected to back up Josh Gray.
Who to Watch
Jordan Mickey thought about bolting for the pros after last season, but decided to stay in Baton Rouge for at least another year. Averaging 3.1 blocks per game in his freshman campaign last year, Mickey was known as being one of the best defenders in college basketball. Look for him to have a breakout year, and it will be interesting to see what decision he makes regarding his future next spring. Another player that might bolt for the pros after this season is Jarell Martin. He was one of the top players in the 2013 class when he committed to play for the Tigers and had a quality freshman season with 10.3 points point game. What impressed me about Martin was he just continued to improve over the course of last year, and I expect him to have an even better sophomore season. Also look for sophomore guard Tim Quarterman to start at shooting guard after the departure of Hickey and Stringer.
LSU is a very young team. Good, but young. Look for Josh Gray and Jordan Mickey to lead the team this season, and I think LSU can put up a fight in the SEC. They could be one of those dark horse teams that sneak into the tournament, but they have to pick up some good wins along the way and they can’t afford to lose to poor opponents. I expect LSU to be on the bubble for most of the year, but if the youth can step up, they might be happy on Selection Sunday.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Josh Gray, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Tim Quarterman, Sophomore, Guard, 2.5 points per game
Jarell Martin, Sophomore, Forward, 10.3 points per game
Jordan Mickey, Sophomore, Forward, 12.7 points per game
Elbert Robinson, Freshman, Center, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.7 (71st in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.3 (209, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (161, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.4 (75, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goals Per Game: 6.8 (118, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.2 (170, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.9 (267, 10)
Rebound Margin: 2.8 (94, 7)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (70, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (291, 12)
Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#57 Jordan Mickey
#65 Jarrell Martin
Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#59 Elbert Robinson