From the merciful end of the 2016-17 season, up to the first session of practices a couple weeks ago, this offseason has been one of the busiest in LSU Basketball’s recent history. Of course, volatility isn’t exactly a bad thing after a 10-21 (2-16) season. Let’s hop right on in:
March 20: Will Wade announced as LSU’s 22nd Men’s Basketball Head Coach. Check out Billy’s article when that news hit here
March 22: Wade has his first press conference as LSU’s coach in the Student Union.
March 28: North Texas head coach Tony Benford is named Assistant Coach.
April 7: Tasmin Mitchell, Nelson Hernandez, and Greg Goldin are also added to the coaching staff.
April 11: Antonio Blakeney declares for the 2017 NBA Draft. He would go undrafted, and would later sign a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls.
April 12: Greg Heiar is added to the coaching staff.
April 13: 6’9” forward Mayan Kiir signs with LSU, the first signee of the 2017 class. At the time of his signing, Kiir was rated as a four-star prospect by ESPN at #95.
April 19: 6’3” guard Daryl Edwards (JUCO) signs with LSU. Edwards was ranked 23rd in all of JUCO, and shot over 46% from 3pt last year.
May 1: Graduate transfer and 6’7” forward Jeremy Combs signs with LSU from North Texas, where new assistant Tony Benford was his head coach. Combs missed 16 games last season, but led the Mean Green in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg) in 2015-16.
May 3: Freshman guard Kieran Hayward announces his transfer from LSU.
May 9: Ole Miss assistant coach Bill Armstrong joins the LSU staff as an assistant coach.
May 9: Branden Jenkins transfers from LSU.
June 5: 5’11” four star PG Tremont Waters signs with LSU. Waters is listed on ESPN as the 32nd overall prospect and 8th ranked point guard in the nation, and was named the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year.
June 19: Elbert Robinson III announces he will step away from basketball, but stay at LSU to finish his degree.
July 12: It’s announced that guard Jalyn Patterson will redshirt for 2017-18 season and will explore his options for his future playing eligibility.
July 20: Gigantic Videoboard signs with LSU. Mobility is very limited, but brings with it a large presence much needed in the SEC.
August 8: Graduate transfer and 6’3” guard Randy Onwuasor signs with LSU. Onwuasor led Southern Utah and the Big Sky Conference last year with 23.6 ppg, and shot 82.7% from the free throw line.
August 19: 6’11” forward Kavell Bigby-Williams transfers to LSU from Oregon. He will sit out the 2017-18 season.
September 13: Brian Merritt is announced as new Coordinator of Basketball Operations.
September 15: Former LSU head coach John Brady will join Chris Blair on radio for basketball.
September 25: “Boot Camp” begins. Coach Wade notes the first practice sessions “spent about 80 percent of our time on defense.” LSU allowed 83.0 PPG in 2016-17, ranked 335th in Division I.
If you’re still with me here, that’s seven returning players (two walk ons), eight new players (with one transfer sitting out), and nine new coaches, with only Administrative Assistant Brittany Carvalhido returning for her eighth year. The goal of the offseason was very clearly to wipe the slate that went 10-21 (2-16) completely clean, and I feel pretty comfortable in agreeing that the goal was met.
If you’re looking for preseason predictions on how a team with a 53% new roster and a 90% new coaching staff will perform, just wait for my drunk tweets after we beat Auburn this Saturday. I refuse to consciously have any kind of expectations, good or bad, until we’re maybe halfway through the conference schedule, so let’s save all that talk for another four months.
It seemed like big news came out every other week for basketball during the summer. Seeing how many wins Coach Wade has landed before a single minute of basketball has actually been played, it’s hard to not be excited about the big changes, and hopefully the big improvements his Tigers will bring to the court in the coming years. The 2017-18 campaign begins on November 10th with a home matchup against Alcorn State. Stay tuned for more preseason coverage in the coming weeks.