Some interesting news on the basketball recruiting front in that multiple recruiting analysts, including 247 Sports Director of Basketball Scouting, are now crystal balling 5-star PG/SG Malik Newman to LSU.
This is quite a shocking turn of events. Newman and LSU have long flirted, but most believed the talented backcourt player would eventually wind up at Kentucky, or perhaps even Kansas. Newman hails from Jackson, Mississippi, just two and a half short hours from Baton Rouge. He recently took in an unofficial visit to LSU, which seems to be the turning point for analysts now picking the Tigers.
When asked, Meyer stated the following:
I'm not saying done deal, but my main source (which is a mighty good one) basically thinks it is. I do think LSU is the best Crystal Ball pick right now.
Newman is very tight with the LSU recruits. Constant communication.
He is dead set on playing point guard. Works in LSU favor.
Can play near home with great players.
Mother lives in Louisiana.
These are pretty excellent factors in LSU's favor. That LSU is able to check the family boxes, as well as the playing time box, have to throw them up near the list of contenders. Throw in his apparent constant communication with LSU signee 5-star Ben Simmons, and LSU commit 5-star Antonio Blakeney, the momentum seems to be growing. Newman apparently has his heart set on playing PG, something which LSU can offer him immediate PT.
There's much to be said about Jones in-game coaching, particularly coming off a loss to a poor Tennessee squad. It's becoming more and more evident that Jones main attraction as a coach is his ability to hit the road and recruiting. Landing Malik Newman would likely propel LSU to the nation's no. 1 class. They are currently ranked 14th, but a quick input into the 247 Class Calculator shows Newman's commitment would nudge LSU up to 52.07 points, pushing past Kentucky for the no. 1 spot.
Truly, it's remarkable to consider, when LSU's former HC struggled to keep in-state talents home, much less reel in highly coveted talents from across the nation. Jones, perhaps similarly to Les Miles, has assembled perhaps the nation's best recruiting staff. In just three short years Jones has turned LSU from a recruiting non-factor to a recruiting powerhouse, without even sniffing the NCAA tournament. Their best effort has been a 2nd round exit in the NIT, and yet LSU can pull one of the very top prospects in recent memory, along with potentially two other 5-star talents coveted by all of basketball's royalty. This would be arguably the school's greatest basketball recruiting class. This at a school where basketball is, at best, third in the pecking order.
This also complicates the issue of whether or not Jones should be fired. The results on the court clearly aren't matching the talent on hand. That's a reason to argue for firing. Then again, it's been proven that pulling top talent to the LSU basketball program is no easy skill. Jones has illustrated the ability to do so.
I'm not sure where LSU goes from here. It seems to me they have gone all-in on Jones' ability to lure top talent with the hope that eventually it will be enough to overcome the coaching deficiencies. Basketball is a game that's perhaps even more talent-reliant than football, so it's not an entirely unprecedented gamble. People still criticize coaches like John Calipari and Roy Williams for their lack of coaching prowess. They've clearly exhibited a higher level of success than Jones, but it's proof that that model may not be as far fetched as you want to believe.
Where does LSU go from here? If Jones lands Newman, you simply can't fire him. Next season's team could be Jones deepest and most talented yet, if he's able to convince Jordan Mickey and Jarrell Martin to return. That's not as inconceivable as it may seem, since neither are surefire NBA lotto picks at this point.