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Javonte Smart, Darius Days and Trendon Watford All Returning to LSU Basketball Program

Will Wade gets back three starters from last year’s team

Maryland v LSU Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Monday was an excellent day for Will Wade and the 2020-21 LSU men’s basketball team as Darius Days, Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford all announced they were coming back to school.

Monday was the deadline for basketball players to withdraw from the 2020 NBA Draft. After testing the waters, Days and Smart will return for their junior years while Watford will be back for his sophomore season. None of the three players were projected to be drafted which will now be held on October 16.

Days averaged 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds last season and started 30 of 31 games. Days was third on the team in made threes, 39, last year behind Skylar Mays and Smart. Days length and shooting ability gives LSU a much needed floor spacer.

Smart also started 30 of 31 games and had a pretty successful first year running point for LSU. Smart ranked seventh in the SEC in total assists with 129 (4.2 per game) and was eighth in assists-to-turnover ratio, 1.8. After a rough start to the year where Smart had 26 turnovers to 25 assists in the first six games, he got the ball handling under control and had 104 assists to 44 turnovers in the last 25 games.

Watford is the biggest return for Wade and the Tigers. Watford’s future was up in the air when it came to the draft. He was invited to participate in the NBA combine after making the All-SEC freshman team. Watford was LSU’s best rebounder last year, grabbing about seven a game and the second leading scorer with 13.6 per game. Standing at 6’9” he and Days can continue to give LSU one of the better forward tandems in the country.

Between Days, Smart and Watford all returning, LSU signing the No. 6 recruiting class in America, and the players added via transfer, Will Wade has the best roster he’s had in his time at LSU.

“Top to bottom, this is probably the best roster we’ve had since we’ve been here,” Wade said. “Now the pressure’s on me to make sure we use the roster properly and position our guys properly to have success.”

The recruiting class is highlighted by five-star shooting guard Cameron Thomas from high school basketball power Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Thomas is the No. 25 overall player in the class and appears to be the favorite to start in place of Skylar Mays. LSU also signed four-stars Mwani Wilkinson, a small forward from Las Vegas, and Eric Gaines a combo guard from the Atlanta area. The Tigers also signed a pair of three-star players, point guard Jalen Cook from Walker, and Josh Gray a center from Connecticut.

As for the transfers, LSU has three. Baton Rouge native and Madison Prep alum Josh LeBlanc, a small forward, comes to LSU from Georgetown; Bryan Penn-Johnson, a center, transfers in from Washington; and Shareef O’Neal, son Shaquille O’Neal, comes to Baton Rouge after a year at UCLA. The status of the three transfers is yet to be determined, but Wade expects Penn-Johnson and O’Neal to be granted waivers to play immediately, while LeBlanc may have to wait until January to play.