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Report: Will Wade, LSU finally scheduled to meet

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LSU and suspended head coach Will Wade are finally scheduled to meet to discuss Wade’s status with the school.

According to a report from Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, Wade and the school will meet on Friday as a potential reinstatement will be a topic of discussion.

Suspended since March 8, Wade missed LSU’s regular-season finale and postseason run to the Sweet 16 as assistant coach Tony Benford took over the team. LSU made the move to suspend Wade after his alleged involvement with runner and convicted felon Christian Dawkins as the two are allegedly caught on a wiretapped conversation discussing a potential offer to a recruit believed to be Tigers freshman guard Javonte Smart.

Wade’s swift suspension was met with some criticism within the LSU fanbase as the Tigers were in the midst of a special season that included an SEC regular-season title and run into the NCAA tournament’s second weekend. After a stalemate the past month, the two sides meeting represents progress during a tense situation in which there has been little movement over the past few weeks.

It’s hard to say what this meeting will entail, as just last Friday, federal prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to prevent Wade from testifying in one of the upcoming bribery trials in the FBI’s investigation.

Report: FBI agents visited with LSU coach Will Wade

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The ongoing saga involving LSU head coach Will Wade took another turn this week as FBI agents were reportedly in Baton Rouge to investigate the suspended coach’s recruiting tactics.

According to a report from Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Pete Thamel the FBI agents made it a point to conduct in-person work regarding Wade after his March 8th suspension. Yahoo also reports that the FBI’s increased attention into Wade’s recruiting tactics “could signal an expansion in the federal basketball corruption case.”

Wade has been suspended indefinitely by LSU after he was reportedly captured on wiretaps with convicted felon and runner Christian Dawkins. Already facing a subpoena, Wade’s been suspended by LSU for his refusal to meet with the school regarding the wiretapped conversations.

Without Wade on the bench, LSU still advanced to the Sweet 16 this season after winning the SEC regular-season title.

LSU’s Naz Reid entering NBA draft

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LSU freshman big man Naz Reid is entering the NBA Draft and intends to sign with an agent. Releasing a note about his intentions on Instagram, the 6-foot-10 Reid will be one of the most compelling draft prospects after a solid freshman season with the Tigers.

A former McDonald’s All-American, Reid averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as he shot 46 percent from the field and 33 percent from three-point range during the year. While Reid can look like an elite player during stretches of time, he’s also had a tendency to disappear for large chunks of time.

But when Reid is engaged, he’s one of the more skilled big men who will be in this upcoming draft thanks to his workable perimeter jumper and some ability to put the ball on the floor. Reid could find his way as a first-round pick with some late-lottery upside if he does well in team workouts and interviews as teams will be searching for upside guys in that range.

Without Reid, LSU will hope that Emmitt Williams and Darius Days return for their sophomore seasons while big man Courtese Cooper redshirted this past season after spending some time in the JuCo ranks. Replacing Reid will be tough, but LSU does have some intriguing frontcourt players to move forward with.

Tremont Waters’ late layup pushes LSU past Maryland and into the Sweet 16

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Whatever issues embroiling LSU off the court, they’re not slowing the Tigers down on it.

No. 3 seed LSU overcame its own blown 15-point lead to ultimately outlast Maryland on Saturday with a 69-67 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament to secure the Tigers’ first Sweet 16 since their 2006 Final Four run.

Skylar Mays hit two free throws to tie the game at 64 with 1 minute, 13 seconds left. The Tigers then got a stop, and Mays delivered a go-ahead 3-pointer from the win with 32.5 seconds left on the clock. The Terps, however, weren’t done as they matched Mays’ 3 with one by Jalen Smith on the ensuing possession.

Tremont Waters then came to the rescue for LSU.

The Tiger guard dribbled the clock down under 10 seconds, then attacked the rim, getting into the paint and delivering a scooping game-winning layup with under 2 seconds to play.

Mays scored 16 to lead the Tigers while Waters had 12 and Naz Reid 13 as LSU overcame shooting 28.9 percent in the second half when Maryland switched largely to zone to advance to Washington, D.C. next week.

It’s been quite the stretch for LSU under interim coach Tony Benford. After going one-and-done at the SEC tournament as the controversy surrounding coach Will Wade’s alleged wiretapped call to Christian Dawkins in which Wade reportedly said he made a “strong-ass offer” to land a recruit, LSU suddenly has its best postseason in more than a decade. How about that?

Of course, the Tigers’ success may eventually be wiped from the record book if the NCAA finds extensive wrongdoing or if the recruit in question, Javonte Smart, is retroactively declared ineligible as he’s playing for LSU despite the cloud that’s been created by what Wade allegedly said on a wiretap that was caught by an investigation that continues to sprawl and impact the sport. Even if it yet hasn’t been to the degree once thought to be imminent when the Southern District of New York announced those first batch of charges more than a year ago.

Regardless of what ultimately happens, though, this group of Tigers is going to play in the Sweet 16, even if it’s eventually stricken from the record books. There’s no Men In Black memory wipe. LSU and its fans will know they won these games, and they’ll probably give themselves extra credit for overcoming the adversity of perhaps getting caught cheating.

It’s hard to argue against LSU leaning into this. They could be looking at potential punishments to the program, and it seems likely they’ll be moving on from Wade after just two seasons. Given it’s been 13 years since they made a second weekend – much less a return to the Final Four – it’s probably best to just enjoy this run, however it may eventually be recorded. Hiring a new coach with a cloud of NCAA uncertainty over the program doesn’t usually foretell a return to prominence, ya know?

So with Minnesota or Michigan State awaiting them in D.C. next week and then potentially Duke, don’t fault LSU for getting its money’s worth out of this run. Maybe that wasn’t the best metaphor there, but you get it.

For Maryland, it’s the third first-weekend departure in four tournaments under Mark Turgeon. The Terps look to be a team that should be back again next year, even if sophomore big man Bruno Fernando opts to go pro. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound center is a projected first-round draft pick, and would be a significant loss for Turgeon, but that could be the only major departure from this year’s team that went 23-11 and finished fifth in the Big Ten.

 

No. 3 LSU holds off late charge to advance past No. 14 Yale

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LSU opened the game on a 9-0 run and held off a late charge as the No. 3 seed Tigers advanced with a 79-74 win over No. 14 seed Yale on Thursday in an NCAA tournament East Region first-round matchup in Jacksonville.

Thanks to the hot start, the Tigers (27-6) built a cushion that lasted the entire game as LSU never trailed. The Bulldogs cut the Tigers’ lead to three with under a minute left but LSU closed the game out from the free-throw line.

Point guard Tremont Waters (15 points, seven assists) was the catalyst for the LSU offense in the first half while the frontcourt of senior Kavell Bigby-Williams (10 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) and freshman Naz Reid (14 points, 10 rebounds) both chipped in double-doubles. Guard Skylar Mays led the Tigers offense with 19 points as he was a big closer from the free-throw line late in the game while also picking up the scoring in the second half when Waters went cold.

The SEC-champion Tigers (27-6) entered the NCAA tournament with some question marks thanks to the recent controversy surrounding suspended head coach Will Wade — as a recent report alleged that he discussed paying for a recruit over a wiretap. LSU didn’t seem fazed without its head coach as they used athleticism and a balanced effort to advance to the second round.

Although LSU got past a tough No. 14 seed in this one, a cold second half on offense will be something to track in the next round. The Tigers were only 4-for-17 (23 percent) from three-point range as they struggled to find consistent second-half offense.

Yale (22-8) was led by the hot shooting of senior guard Alex Copeland (24 points) as he was aggressive hunting his own pull-ups and knocking down catch-and-shoot threes. Unfortunately for Copeland, and the Bulldogs, he didn’t have much help in terms of perimeter shooting. Yale finished an ugly 8-or-36 (22 percent) from three-point range on the afternoon as they couldn’t buy a bucket from the perimeter.

Jordan Bruner (16 points) and Azar Swaim (12 points) also finished in double-figures for the Bulldogs. Yale’s best NBA Draft prospect, junior wing Miye Oni, had a nightmare afternoon, finishing with only five points while going 2-for-16 from the field.

The Ivy League champions did a fine job of eventually adjusting to LSU’s length and athleticism, but the cold perimeter shooting and slow start ultimately was too much to overcome.

LSU advances to face the winner of No. 6 seed Maryland and No. 11 seed Belmont on Saturday in Jacksonville.

LSU Says Wade Still Suspended; Coach Seeks To Resume Duties

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — LSU says Will Wade won’t resume his duties as men’s basketball coach unless he speaks to university officials about the reports of an FBI wire-tap that resulted in his suspension.

The statement from the school Thursday comes amid reports that Wade wants to resume his duties as the ninth-ranked Tigers prepare for the postseason.

LSU suspended Wade indefinitely last week in the wake of reports that FBI wire-tap captured his telephone conversations with a person convicted last year of funneling money to the families of basketball recruits. Tony Benford has been serving as interim coach.

Thomas Skinner, a general counsel for LSU, says Wade will remain suspended until he speaks to school officials about the situation.

Wade told Sports Illustrated on Thursday that he was put on leave because he didn’t submit to an interview with LSU and NCAA officials. The coach says he wasn’t speaking on the advice of his counsel and added that “given these facts, I don’t believe it is appropriate for me to be relieved of my duties.”