Will Wade, senior shooting guard Skylar Mays, and sophomore point guard Javonte Smart all represented the LSU basketball program as the trio traveled to Birmingham for SEC Media Days Wednesday.
The Tigers are coming off a 28-7 record and a 16-2 mark in SEC play that won LSU its first SEC Championship since 2009. LSU earned a No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament and made the Sweet 16 before ultimately losing to Michigan State in Washington D.C.
LSU made it to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend for the first time since the 2006 team made the Final Four. Now the challenge for LSU is to make it to consecutive tournaments, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
“We haven’t been to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments at LSU in almost 15 years,” Wade said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been consistent, and I think the mark of any good program is being consistent. We don’t want to be a one hit wonder where we win the regular season then come in 10th and go back to the NIT.”
Mays and Smart also spoke at media days. Both Mays and Smart declared for the NBA draft before ultimately deciding to remain in school. Smart will be replacing Tremont Waters while Mays will be serving as Smart’s backcourt running mate.
“Skylar’s the heart and soul of our team,” Wade said. “We’re very lucky he came back. He could have left and had some major NBA interest, but he’s the leader of our team.”
“He’s a leader,” Smart said. “It’s his senior year and we look at him for leadership and we all follow behind him.”
While Smart will be taking over the ball handling duties, LSU will be looking to sophomores Emmitt Williams, Darius Days and incoming freshman Trendon Watford to replace Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams in the front court.
“(Watford’s) awesome,” Mays said. “He’s gonna have his bumps in the road like every freshman does, but I don’t expect him to have many. He’s got such a mature game. And in Spain he looked like a senior up there.”
LSU was picked to finish third in the SEC. Kentucky was the preseason favorite for the ninth straight season and Florida was picked to finish second. Florida’s Kerry Blackshear, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, was named the preseason player of the year; Gator coach Mike White was named the preseason coach of the year.
Blackshear, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans, Ole Miss’ Breein Tyree and Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry were voted First-Team All-SEC.
The preason poll is as follows:
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M