Men’s basketball was certainly the black sheep of the LSU athletics program this year.
Brian Kelly led the football team back to Atlanta and a 10-win season with a roster composed of duct tape and gum. Jay Johnson’s got the No. 1 team in baseball and they’ve looked the part more often than not. Jay Clark has gymnastics competing for a national championship, and all Kim Mulkey did was win the school’s first ever basketball national championship.
Matt McMahon had no such luck in year one. But I’m choosing to look on the bright side: it can’t be any worse next season.
With a new year means a new roster and in the transfer portal era we’re in, teams will look drastically different from season-to-season. Let’s look at who’s leaving the Tigers and who McMahon has added via the portal.
At the time of this writing we’ve seen the following players enter their names into the portal:
- Adam Miller
- Shawn Phillips
- Corneilous Williams
- Kendal Coleman
- Justice Hill
- Justice Williams
Miller was a big time addition going into the 2021-22 season but tore his ACL just before that year began. Miller put his name into the portal last year only to remove it and that looked like it would be a massive win for Matt McMahon.
Instead Miller’s year was up and down at best. Miller averaged 11 points but shot 33 percent from the floor. Miller is certainly talented, he started 31 games as a freshman at Illinois and was on Team USA’s Under-19 team that won gold. Hopefully an extra year removed from injury and a change of scenery will help him recapture what made him such a hyped prospect.
Justice Hill is probably the second biggest departure from this past season’s team. Hill followed McMahon from Murray State and led LSU in assists with 81. Hill was a First-Team All-OVC selection before making the jump to the SEC.
The other Justice, Williams, was another holdover from [NAME REDACTED]’s last team. Williams was a highly coveted prospect coming out of Philadelphia, in fact he reclassified and came to LSU as a 17-year-old. Injuries have slowed Williams’s growth, as an ankle injury took him out for the majority of LSU’s non-conference trek.
LSU’s also lost three bodies in the front court though frankly none made significant impacts this season. Kendal Coleman came from Northwestern State and only averaged eight minutes in the 21 games he appeared in; Shawn Phillips only got about seven minutes a game though his role increased as the season drew to a close and had 13 points and 10 rebounds in LSU’s win over Georgia in the SEC Tournament. Corneilous Williams missed the entirety of the season and took a redshirt after injuring his shoulder prior to the 2022-23 season beginning.
But as the portal taketh away, so too does it giveth and LSU’s added two players from the portal.
Jordan Wright, a Baton Rouge native, is coming home to Louisiana to spend his final year of eligibility with the Tigers. Wright’s transferring in from Vanderbilt and was one of the Commodores’ best players this season, ranking second in scoring and third in assists/rebounds.
Former Tiger Jalen Cook is also coming back to the program. Cook, if you’ll recall, played for LSU during the 2020-21 season before transferring to Tulane. Cook’s been an All-AAC selection in each of the past two seasons for the Green Wave and should be an immediate impact at the guard position.
The most recent addition for LSU comes in the form of former Nevada big man Will Baker. Baker was a top-30 prospect coming out of high school where he originally signed with Texas before ultimately transferring to Nevada. Measuring at 7’0” and 245, Baker averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds for the Wolfpack this past season.
My pal Mike Wittman, who covered Baker at our SB Nation Mountain West Conference site Mountain West Connection, said “he can be an immediate starter and provide scoring and rebounding. He doesn’t need to be a main point of the offense in order to produce.”