By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
It's time for college basketball and there is excitement in the air around Baton Rouge. Will Wade begins his 4th season as head coach at LSU and his team is loaded. Gone are Skylar Mays and Emmitt Williams, but the Tigers have a solid core of returning starters. Javonte Smart, Trendon Watford, and Darius Days all chose to return to LSU after testing NBA Draft waters. Smart has the chance to be perhaps the best point guard in the SEC, and Watford could end up being the SEC Player of the Year.
Wade has brought in several newcomers, who have unlimited talent and potential, as this season's recruiting class was ranked 6th in the nation. Many think that LSU could have the best roster in the SEC. This team certainly has what it takes to win a Conference Championship and geaux deep into the NCAA Tournament. Some even say they have Final Four talent.
Now, remember this name, Cameron Thomas, because you will be hearing it often. The 6-4, 210lbs Thomas is a five star recruit out of Chesapeake, Va. where he attended high school at Oak Hill Academy. He averaged 31.5 points a game as a senior becoming the program's all-time leading scorer. He can score from anywhere on the court with dazzling moves that will leave fans amazed. Fingers are crossed that he may wear the purple and gold for two or three seasons and won't be a one-and-done.
Wade was able to add up front depth to the team with three key transfers.
Bryan Penn-Johnson transferred from Washington and is expected to start at center for the Tigers. Penn-Johnson arrives at LSU with his 7-0, 260lbs frame and should bring a huge rebounding and shot blocking presence down low in the paint that the Tigers were lacking last season.
Josh LeBlanc, a 6-7, 215lbs forward from Baton Rouge who prepped at Madison Prep, transfers in from Georgetown where he was part of the Hoyas 2018 class. LeBlanc will be a force coming off the bench, however he was not granted a waiver for immediate eligibility. He will be able to play in mid-December when the academic semester ends.
Then there is Shareef! Shareef O'Neal, son of LSU-Legend, and NBA great, Shaquille O'Neal. O'Neal started his college career at UCLA in 2018 where he was diagnosed with a heart condition by the UCLA medical staff. Shareef underwent open heart surgery to correct the problem. He is an inspiration to many after having to deal with a life-threatening situation at such a young age, and still be able to return to play basketball at a high level. He will add talented depth to the Tigers and without a doubt be a fan favorite.
Other newcomers to watch are, .... freshman forward Mwani Wilkinson out of Las Vegas, Nev., ..... freshman guard Eric Gaines out of Lithonia, Ga., ... freshman center Josh Gray from Brooklyn, NY., and freshman gurad Jalen Cook from local, Walker High.
Add Charles Manning Jr. and Aundre Hyatt into the mix and you have a roster that will be a
physical mismatch against any opponent they play. If Will Wade and the LSU staff can put together the right lineup and bench rotation to gel this group quickly, this could be a special season.
The Tigers tip off the season on Thanksgiving Day in St. Louis, MO., against SIU Edwardsville, then take on Saint Louis on Saturday, Nov. 28th, before returning home to the PMAC to host Southeastern Louisiana on Monday, Nov. 30th at 7pm. Click the button below for the Tigers' 2020-21 Basketball Season Schedule...
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUP:
PG - Javonte Smart
SG - Cameron Thomas
F - Darius Days
F - Trendon Watford
C - Bryan Penn-Johnson