Now that Crabshire has got you all caught up on this seasons preview, and because the early signing period has officially started, lets take a look at what the 2016 recruiting class is so far, and what if may shape up to be. While it’s not got the glitz and glam of the 2015 class, there are real pieces here, as Coach Jones continues to build-up the program he played for as a young man.
Skylar Mays (4-star recruit, ESPN ranked #22 PG)
Formerly of University High, Mays is now playing out the remainder of his highschool career at Findlay Prep is Las Vegas. After committing and then de-commiting from LSU in 2014, Mays is back for good this time, as he’s said that it is his intention to sign tomorrow. Sought after by many (including UNLC, Wisconsin, Wichita State, and Stanford), Mays sites his desire to prepare for college as the primary motivator for his move to Findlay, though the increased level of competition and visibility. Mays is a floor general in the making, with a solid mid-range shot and an ability to get to the rim. He’ll need to improve his perimeter shooting and continue to make progress on the defensive end. Given the losses of Hornsby and Gray (not to mention the more than likely losses of Simmons, Quarterman, and Blakeney,) Mays figures to be a major part of the team next year and is currently the crown jewel of Jones’ recruiting class.
Wayde Sims (3-stars, ESPN ranked #41)
Sims’ papers were just approved at 4:30 CT today. The Baton Rouge born and raised (and son of LSU great Wayne Sims) was the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year in the 2014-2015 season, and will give the Tigers a variety of skill sets, including operating out of the low post. Coach Jones, a cousin to Wayne Sims, offered Wayde Sims when he was a freshman in high school, during Jones’ first year on the job. Sims will look to make the transition to playing much more of a stretch 4 or straight 3 role in Jones system, and so he’ll need to continue to improve his shooting and his perimeter defensive abilities over the course of his senior year, as he looks to lead University to a third straight state championship.
Kieran Hayward (Unranked)
Australian point guard, who, as many Aussie prospects are, was relatively unknown when came over to the US for American circuits last summer. He ended up making a decision between LSU and Arizona State, and said he chose LSU because, "when I was touring LSU and got to see the campus and meet everyone there, it just seemed like a special place and I couldn't turn it down." A recruiting analyst I spoke to recently told me that Hayward would have likely have easily been ranked as a top 100 player, and maybe higher, if he had played his entire high-school career in the states. A bit of wildcard, Coach Patrick and Jones are extremely high on Kieran and expect that he will make an immediate impact next season.
A pair of JUCO Transfers from Lee College
Branden Jenkins (6’4) JUCO Recruiting Analyst Brad Winton’s take on Jenkins "an explosive athlete and a very good on-ball defender. He is very good in transition and is tough to contain off the dribble in the half-court offense. Jenkins has very quick hands and can defend all three perimeter spots. He has a very good mid-range game and can pull up on a dime from 15 feet. Jenkins also has a very quick first step and can use his size and athletic ability to score through contact at the rim."
Duop Reath Originally from Sudan, at 6’10 has the rare combination of the ability to score with back to basket off the dribble from the perimeter. A very average shooter, but conscious of the fact that he needs to improve int hat area. Highly recruited by Virginia Tech and others, Reath signed the day after Jenkins did, just a couple of weeks ago. Both are ranked in the JUCO top 20, with many considering Reath the top forward in the 2016 JC class.
Still Waiting On:
Unfortunately, moments ago, De’Aaron Fox, the top PG in the nation, announced on ESPN that he will attend Kentucky. This was widely expected, as the Tigers were thought to have had a good shot at Fox before Calipari and his staff took notice of him last summer and decided he had to him. That’s the way these things go when it comes to Calipari and Kentucky, with Simmons being the lone exception to rule.
The writing was on the wall (or twitter timeline) for this one, as Fox retweeted this after sending out a message that he had "lost the Halloween spirit."
Also waiting to hear from Abdulhakim Ado on his decision, a 6-9 center from Chattanooga TN, and Bruno Fernando, a 6-10 center from Montverde High who is expected to be picking between Alabama and LSU (but is widely expected to pick the Tigers.) Both would be important signings for the Tigers, as competent big men (post players, really) are in somewhat of short supply in Baton Rouge at the moment.
With Fox, this would have been an undeniable home-run of a recruiting class. It was a long shot, and he went to the dark-side just as everyone expected him to. Without him, it’s still solid, and goes to show that despite many in the media’s criticism of him, Coach Jones is more than capable of putting together a high-quality group. It’s the questions about how he and the staff then develops those guys that has some painting Jones as the weak-link in the LSU program. It's still early, there is still plenty of developments that can occur, but as of now, it's a pretty solid group.