With two seniors in their perimeter rotation and a freshman forward in Ben Simmons who’s projected to be a high draft pick next June, LSU has some departures to account for on the recruiting trail. Wednesday afternoon head coach Johnny Jones received verbal commitments from two junior college players who are currently teammates.
The Lee College (Texas) tandem of 6-foot-4 Branden Jenkins and 6-foot-10 power forward Duop Reath made their pledges to attend LSU, as first reported by Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com.
Both will be signing during the early signing period, which begins November 16. LSU is now up to four verbal commitments in the 2016 class, with point guard Skylar Mays and wing Wayde Sims being the others.
Both Jenkins and Reath were on the receiving end of recruiting interest from multiple high-major programs. In regards to Reath, the Tigers have a player who’s regarded as one of the top players at the junior college level according to Winton.
Reath is arguably the top forward in the 2016 JC class and is extremely skilled for his size. He has the ability to score with his back to the basket in the low post and can also score from the perimeter. He has a smooth stroke with range that extends beyond the three-point line. He can also attack the basket off the dribble against bigger/slower forwards. The 6’10 forward has improved quickly since last season and has a very high ceiling.
LSU is certain to lose guards Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby at the end of the upcoming season, and it’s expected that Simmons won’t be in Baton Rouge all that long himself. These additions should help the Tigers account for those anticipated losses, as they have two players with the skill needed to have an immediate impact at the Division I level.
With former escort Katina Powell releasing her book “Breaking Cardinal Rules” earlier this month, one of the questions was what would happen to the current college basketball players whose names appear in the book. Among those named are Ohio State freshman JaQuan Lyle and LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney, and with the NCAA lacking subpoena power current players become likely interview subjects for the investigation.
LSU head coach Johnny Jones was asked about the status of his freshman guard at SEC Media Day in Charlotte on Wednesday, and Jones is confident that Blakeney won’t be sidelined as a result of the ongoing investigation according to ESPN.com.
“I’m not privy to all the information, and it’s an ongoing investigation, but to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think he felt as though he wasn’t aware of what was going on,” Jones said.
Asked if he thought he would have to hold Blakeney out of any games Jones said he did not.
Both Blakeney and Lyle have spoken to the NCAA regarding this case, and like Jones the people at Ohio State were confident that their freshman was in no danger of missing time as a result. While current players can be painted into a corner of sorts when it comes to situations such as this, avoiding punishment comes down to being forthright with information.
And while critics of the NCAA will argue about the fairness of dangling eligibility over the head of an athlete, that’s the way these things have and will be handled due to the organization’s lack of subpoena power over those who aren’t a part of collegiate athletics as a coach, player or administrator.
Video credit: ESPN
Oak Ridge High (Florida) senior shooting guard Antonio Blakeney committed to LSU on Friday evening. Blakeney picked the Tigers over Kentucky and Missouri.
The 6-foot-3 Blakeney is listed as the No. 13 overall player in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. Ben Simmons, the nation’s top recruit and Blakeney’s AAU teammate, had committed to LSU in 2013.
Blakeney is coming off a terrific summer on the grassroots circuit with Each 1 Teach 1, averaging 19.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 22 games in the Nike EYBL. He initially ended his recruitment in early September, committing to Louisville. He was set to be the highest-rated recruit on arguably the best recruiting class in the nation, alongside guard Donovan Mitchell and forwards Deng Adel and Raymond Spalding, all of whom are top-5o overall recruits.
However, 11 days after he pledged to the Cardinals, he decommitted. The reason for Blakeney reopening his recruitment is believed to be shoe company related. Louisville wears adidas, while the other five finalists for his services — Florida State, Kentucky LSU, Missouri and Oregon — all are Nike schools. Blakeney recently announced he’d decide between Kentucky, LSU and Missouri.
Simmons and Blakeney are the only two commits in LSU’s incoming class. They are both regarded as five-star recruits. Since 2013, LSU head coach Johnny Jones has landed three five-star prospects with sophomore forward Jarell Martin as the other. Martin and fellow sophomore forward Jordan Mickey are the Tigers top two scorers and rebounders. If one, or both, can avoid the NBA Draft for another season, the Tigers will have a talented core to work with in 2015-16.