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2020 SEC Basketball Previews: LSU Tigers

2020 SEC Basketball Previews: LSU Tigers

This year’s LSU team is loaded and should be improved from a year ago. Will Wade has another huge class coming in as well as some impressive transfers to keep LSU basketball rolling.

2019 Record: 21-10 (12-6), 3rd in SEC

Key Returners: (G) Ja’Vonte Smart, (F) Trendon Watford, (F) Darius Days, (G) Charles Manning Jr.

Key Additions: (G) Cameron Thomas (No.25 prospect), (F) Mwani Wilkinson (No.72 prospect), (G) Eric Gaines (No.94 prospect), (F) Shareef O’Neal (UCLA transfer)

Key Losses: (G) Skylar Mays, (F) Emmitt Williams, (G) Marlon Taylor

2019 Season

The start to the season actually didn’t go too well for LSU. A lot of close games early was concerning for fans and the 9-4 out of conference could’ve been better. The Tigers had some eye sores on the resume with losses to VCU, Utah State, East Tennessee State and USC.

LSU ran off ten straight wins after their loss to the Trojans, including nine conference wins. The winning streak jumped them as high as No.18. The Tigers earned big wins against teams like Texas, Florida and Mississippi State. However there was still cause for concern with six of the ten wins coming by four points or less.

The luck had to run out eventually as the wheels started falling off late in the season. The Tigers limped to the finish with a 4-6 record. Controversy around the program led to an eventual suspension of Will Wade. LSU escaped the scandal without NCAA violations though as Wade prepares for the 2020 opener.

2020 Season

Projected Starting Lineup: Ja’Vonte Smart (G, Jr), Cameron Thomas (G, Fr), Charles Manning Jr. (G, Sr), Darius Days (F, Jr), Trendon Watford (F, So)

Starters

LSU returns several key pieces back to the starting lineup from last year. Ja’Vonte Smart will assume the point guard duties after passing the ball very well last year. Charles Manning will compliment him on the wing. Manning can be moved around if needed but is one of the stronger shot blockers on this team.

Cameron Thomas is a newcomer in the lineup and the top recruit from LSU’s No.6 class. He should wow spectators offensively as he is a scoring machine. He broke his high school’s scoring records and should help replace the 16.7 points from Skylar Mays last year.

Darius Days and Trendon Watford return as regular starters last season. Days is a massive force inside despite being 6’7″. He uses his 245lbs frame to bully players out of the way which led to him being one of the conference’s top rebounders last year.

Watford earned SEC All-Freshmen team last year and is on the First Team All-SEC this season. He rebounds at a high rate, plays very good defense, gets to the free throw line and does a little bit of everything for LSU. Expect an even bigger year than last year as he works to impress NBA scouts.

Reserves

A number of young players are in the mix to play for some bench minutes. With four incoming freshman on the bench and three sophomores, Wade will be looking for consistency from his reserves. They have tons of talent between them which will make the competition stiff.

Mwani Wilkinson and Eric Gaines are the two primary options for the backcourt. Gaines has been described as an effortless scorer inside and outside with exceptional speed and quickness. Wilkinson has a strong physique which will make him more versatile on the court. Wade described him as being a tremendous athlete and is excited to see him play early.

2020 SEC Basketball Previews: LSU Tigers
Shareef O’Neal was ranked 41 in the 2018 class. (Photo by bleacherreport.com.)

Shareef O’Neal was a big snag for the Tigers. Shaquille O’Neal’s son has Baton Rouge buzzing about his potential. He had limited time with UCLA and will hope to carve a role in Will Wade’s system. Washington transfer Bryan Penn-Johnson will be a big (literally) factor off the bench at 7’0″. The two will be a young, formidable backup duo in the frontcourt.

LSU will easily replace the production from last season. They have a lot of experience mixed with some of the nation’s top new talent coming in. It’s a safe bet to assume they won’t have so many bad losses early this season.

Prediction: 3rd

 

 

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