LSU Tigers

LSU's Antonio Blakeney (2) dunks as Tennessee's Armani Moore (4) looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, March 11, 2016. LSU won 84-75. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Blakeney’s NBA early entrant appearance a mistake, Jones says

Leave a comment

LSU’s freshman Antonio Blakeney guard announced a week ago he planned to return to Baton Rouge for his sophomore season after initially deciding to test the NBA draft waters.

Apparently, the NBA never got the message.

Blakeney was among those listed as an early entrant on the list the NBA distributed Tuesday night, but, according to LSU, it was simply a mistake.

“Nothing has changed from Antonio Blakeney’s (decision) last week to withdraw from the draft,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said in a statement released by the school. “This is just a case of the formality of the paperwork not reaching the NBA Office prior to the preparation of the list.”

How’s that for a mix up?

Tigers fans no doubt had a momentary freakout when seeing Blakeney, who averaged 12.6 points per game last year, on the list given how vital he’ll be for the team next year with Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman leaving for the NBA after one of college basketball’s most disappointing seasons in which LSU missed the NCAA tournament and turned down an NIT opportunity despite having the player (Simmons) who spent most of the last year as the presumptive No. 1 pick the 2016 draft.

But, as long as there’s not an even bigger miscommunication as the one apparently that happened here, Blakeney will be back for what no doubt will be a critical season for Jones.

LSU coach: Tigers won’t play in any postseason tourneys

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 12:  Ben Simmons #25 of the LSU Tigers stands on the court after being charged with a technical foul in the game against the Texas A&M Aggies during the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 12, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) LSU freshman Ben Simmons’ college career could be finished.

Coach Johnny Jones announced Sunday that the Tigers will not participate in a postseason tournament after being left out of the NCAA field.

The Tigers (19-14) finished in a tie for third place in the Southeastern Conference for the second straight year. They failed to play up to expectations created by the arrival of Simmons, who might declare for the upcoming NBA draft.

Jones says LSU “will be able to utilize this time to get better and start preparations for next season.” The coach says the Tigers fell short of their mark of getting to the NCAA Tournament and he takes full responsibility, adding he’ll do what is necessary to ensure LSU accomplishes one of its main goals in the future.

Defense, rebounding cost LSU in loss at Houston

Johnny Jones
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Having lost the biggest games on their non-conference schedule to date, LSU entered Sunday’s game at Houston in a position where they could ill-afford any more losses before the start of SEC play. But thanks to issues on the defensive end of the floor Johnny Jones’ team suffered its fourth loss of the season, falling 105-98 in overtime at Hoffheinz Pavilion.

Ben Simmons fouling out late in regulation did the Tigers no favors in the extra session, which came as a result of a Keith Hornsby three-pointer with nine seconds remaining in regulation. But when you defend and rebound at the level that LSU did Sunday night, it’s tough to win close games.

Houston shot 51.4 percent from the field and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, converting those opportunities into 20 second-chance points. The played who posed the biggest issue for LSU in this regard was junior forward Chicken Knowles, who accounted for 20 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with six of his boards coming on the offensive end.

Houston scored 50 points in the paint Sunday night, taking advantage of numerous defensive breakdowns in the process. Those points came from second-chance opportunities and dribble penetration, with guard Rob Gray Jr. hitting multiple floaters on his way to a career-high 31 points. That all isn’t on the shoulders of the LSU big men given Houston’s ability to get quality looks off the dribble, but the Tigers need more from the likes of Aaron Epps (12 points) and Elbert Robinson III as they combined for four rebounds in the game.

The addition of Arizona transfer Craig Victor will help LSU in the front court; besides Simmons they don’t have much in the way of consistent production on the glass in the paint (Epps and Robinson average a combined six rebounds per game). But the Tigers’ issues when it comes to their lack of attention to detail, which was once again evident against Houston, cannot be solved by the arrival of one player.

That’s going to be a collective effort, and to this point in the season LSU hasn’t shown the ability to do this against quality competition on a consistent basis.

The offense is there, and the return of Hornsby is a big deal for a team that had issues with perimeter shooting. Hornsby scored 32 points, shooting 6-for-10 from three with his teammates combining to shot 3-for-16 from deep. Simmons added 13 points, 14 rebounds and five assists before fouling out, and Quarterman accounted for 27 points, ten rebounds and six assists off the bench (disciplinary reasons).

For all the talk about Simmons’ individual gifts and how his game translates to the next level, there’s work to be done at the college level first. And if Simmons and his teammates are to have any shot at getting to the NCAA tournament, they have to straighten things out on the defensive end.

LSU wins behind Simmons’ historic night but issues still loom

Ben Simmons
Associated Press
2 Comments

Monday night’s decisive loss at the College of Charleston was the worst performance of the young season for an LSU team saddled with lofty expectations. The Tigers couldn’t make shots, and even though he managed to tally 15 points, 18 rebounds and four assists in that game freshman forward Ben Simmons shot 4-for-15 from the field and also had seven turnovers.

LSU needed to rebound Wednesday night against Atlantic Sun preseason favorite North Florida and they did, winning 119-108 thanks in large part to an incredible performance from their 6-foot-10 freshman phenom.

Simmons shot 15-for-20 from the field, with just two of those attempts coming outside of the paint, scored 43 points while also accounting for 14 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three blocked shots. And he only turned the ball over twice against the Ospreys, who didn’t look to double-team Simmons all that often. He took advantage, getting to just about wherever he wanted to go on the court against a team whose tallest player who saw action was 6-foot-8.

So what do we take out of this? A historic performance, one in which Simmons joined Shaquille O’Neal and Pete Maravich as the lone players in school history to score 43 points in a game? Or a game in which, while acknowledging Simmons’ achievements, the Tigers allowed 108 points? How about both?

Wednesday’s game produced multiple standout offensive performances, with UNF’s tandem of Beau Beech and Dallas Moore scoring 31 points apiece and LSU guards Josh Gray and Tim Quarterman both posting stat lines of 20 points, six assists and one turnover on the night. But it would be Simmons, projected by many to be the top pick in next June’s NBA Draft, who stole the show.

The performance certainly deserves praise. But if Simmons is to have the opportunity to showcase his skills on college basketball’s biggest stage, LSU has some strides to make defensively.

LSU lands another Australian as 2016 guard commits

Leave a comment

LSU has recruited Australia very hard the past few classes as many are familiar with stud freshman forward Ben Simmons. The Tigers continued to tap into their Aussie pipeline this weekend as Class of 2016 guard Kieran Hayward committed during an official visit to LSU.

The 6-foot-5 Hayward can knock down shots from the perimeter while he’s also bouncy enough to play above the rim. Hayward also took official visits to St. Joseph’s and Rider during the recruiting process but the Tigers were able to close during his final visit.

LSU assistant coach David Patrick is from Australia and he’s done a nice job of building a connection to help the Tigers land player. Besides Simmons, center Darcy Malone also hails from Australia and now they have Hayward entering the picture as well. By landing a commitment from Hayward, his shooting ability should help offset the loss of Keith Hornsby once he exhausts his eligibility after this season.

One interesting thing to note is that Hayward could come to LSU at the semester break and opt to redshirt this season so he gets a head start and acclimating to college life. Hayward becomes the fifth member of LSU’s Class of 2016, joining four-star guard Skylar Mays, three-star forward Wayde Sims and junior college teammates Branden Jenkins and Duop Reath.

Lee College tandem verbally commits to LSU

Johnny Jones
Associated Press
Leave a comment

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.