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.
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