Last season it was hard for anyone to write or talk about LSU without mentioning Ben Simmons. Now, just a year later, it’s almost equally hard to not write about his absence. LSU still has two talented players in Craig Victor II and Antonio Blakeney from last season but they haven’t reloaded with a whole lot.
Based on the fact that Johnny Jones could barely win with Ben Simmons and a very good supporting cast last season is enough reason for concern this year. Maybe there will be dramatic improvement from the returning players or possibly a few key pieces that weren’t able to shine last season in the shadow of Ben Simmons, but as of now it doesn’t look good for the LSU Tigers this season and it very well could be Johnny Jones’ last season in the SEC.
Other than the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Tigers should be able to gather some wins during the non-conference schedule but it won’t put them in favorable position to reach the post season. That means they’ll then have to finish really well in the SEC to have a shot but that seems even more unlikely.
Blakeney was a former top-25 ranked player nationally and could possibly be a bright spot for the Tigers this season now that he has the opportunity to be the star on the team. Last season Blakeney was able to average double-digit scoring numbers and returns as the team’s leading scorer. For LSU to succeed this season, he’ll need to be the player that many hoped he would be last season and score closer to 20 PPG. If Blakeney can get other Tigers involved as well, it will be an added bonus for LSU.
Two newcomers, Duop Reath and Branden Jenkins are joining the Tigers, both from Lee College. The big man and guard have playing experience with each other from Junior College and that chemistry might serve as an advantage to earning playing time early in the season this year for LSU. The two should add some needed experience for LSU and could help the Tigers get some wins in their non-conference schedule while Johnny Jones and the coaching staff figure out how the other pieces to the puzzle are going to fit by the time conference play roles around.
Last season LSU greatly underperformed, and this season they don’t have near the level of talent as they did a year ago. It would be considered a good campaign for Johnny Jones just to keep his job at the end of this season, but that’s looking a little unlikely. If Ben Simmons, Tim Quarterman, and Keith Hornsby couldn’t lead the LSU Tigers to 20 wins last season, there’s not a lot of hope for this year’s squad.
LSU is going to be near the bottom, if not all the way at the bottom of the SEC this season and Johnny Jones shouldn’t be the head coach in Baton Rouge this time next year. If either of those things prove incorrect, it will be a successful season for the LSU Tigers.
#1 Duop Reath, 6’10” F from Lee College
#4 Skylar Mays, 6’4” 3-star G from Frindlay Prep
#5 Kieran Hayward, 6’4” 3-star G from Australia
#10 Branden Jenkins, 6’4” G from Lee College
#44 Wayde Sims, 6’6” 3-star F from University HS ,
#0 Brandon Sampson, 6’5” G - Averaged 4 PPG in just 13.2 MPG in 27 games last season
#1 Duop Reath, 6’10” F - 11th ranked Junior College transfer
#2 Antonio Blakeney, 6’4” G - Leading returning scorer with 12.6 PPG last season in the shaddow of Ben Simmons
#4 Skylar Mays, 6’4” G - Local talent and 5th ranked player in the state of Louisiana
#10 Branden Jenkins, 6’4” G - Played with Reath at Lee College and the pair should bring experience and chemistry
#11 Jayln Patterson, 6’1” G - Averaged 4.7 PPG in 22 MPG seeing action in 28 games last season
#32 Craig Victor II, 6’9” F - Averaged 11.5 PPG and 5.6 RPG as a freshman last season
2016-2017 Season Predictions
|vs Southern Miss||W|
|vs North Florida||W|
|Michigan State/Baylor/VCU/St. John’s||L|
|vs North Carolina Central||W|
|vs Texas Southern||W|
|@ Wake Forest||W|
|vs Mississippi State||L|
|@ Texas A&M||L|
|@ Texas Tech||L|
|vs South Carolina||W|
|vs Texas A&M||L|
|@ Ole Miss||L|
|@ Mississippi State||L|