Good piece of news broke yesterday, as the second half of LSU's blockbuster 2015 recruiting class, guard Antonio Blakeney, announced that he would pull his name back from the NBA Draft and return to school for his sophomore season in Baton Rouge.
Blakeney had initially put his name out to inquire into the draft process, but reserved his right to return (he would have had until 10 days after the NBA Combine later this month to pull his name back) and never withdrew from classes or stopped working out with the team. Yesterday, Blakeney decided he'd heard enough...
"After consulting with my coaches and with my family, I have decided to return to LSU for my sophomore season," Blakeney said. "I believe I can further improve my skill set in different areas to become even more effective for my team in the future.
"Although I finished the year strong and posted a solid season, I think it is in my best interest to return and continue to improve as I strive and prepare to be the best I can be. This will also allow me to continue with my schoolwork and continue to move forward on my college degree."
Blakeney, who was also the SEC Freshman of the Week twice during the season, averaged 12.6 points per game and 3.4 rebounds while starting 24 of the Tigers' 33 games. He averaged 30.8 minutes per game and made 52 three-pointers. He finished the season making 89-of-119 free throws (74.8%) and 31-of-his-last-32 attempts, including a string of 28 straight.
"We're excited about Antonio Blakeney's decision to return for his sophomore season at LSU," said LSU Head Men's Basketball Coach Johnny Jones. "His return will automatically give us another prolific scorer and the experience factor that is needed as we continue moving forward for next season. We will work diligently to help him continue to improve this offseason as he strives to be the best."
Blakeney struggled a little early on to find his groove, but really caught fire down the stretch for the Tigers, averaging more than 18 a game over the final 11 of of the season. The Tigers, of course, lost superstar forward Ben Simmons to the draft process, which was more than expected. Guard Tim Quarterman is leaving as well, although he may not have had much of a choice there.