With Jordan Mickey’s announcement that he is returning for his sophomore season, we can start to look ahead to the 2014-2015 season. Johnny Jones has this team at a talent level that we haven’t seen since the John Brady era. The question for next season will be whether or not he can mold that talent into a NCAA Tournament team.
The Departures: The biggest loss of the off season is junior forward Johnny O’Bryant III declaring for the NBA Draft. His scoring, rebounding and leadership will be missed on next years team. The other two departures from the team were Shavon Coleman and Andre Stringer, both who were seniors. Stringer was 3rd on the team in scoring averaging just under 11 points a game. His scoring off the bench will be hard to replace, but with the loss offense comes the gain on defense. Stringer had a hard time defending the perimeter due to his size, giving opposing players the ability to shoot right over him. Coleman was more of a do it all type player. He was 5th in scoring, 2nd in steals, 4th in rebounding and 3rd in assists. Incoming players and current players will have to step up to fill the holes left by these departures.
Returning Players: The stars of next years team will undoubtedly be forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin. The key for both of these players to have breakout sophomore campaigns will be their ability to be consistent on the offensive end. Martin has the ability to be an elite scorer, and him returning for his sophomore year will help him tremendously. Martin will also need to be more of a defensive force. If both improve like most expect, the Tigers will be in good shape for next season. Another sophomore that should make major improvements in the off season is guard Tim Quarterman. Quarterman only averaged just under three points and two assists per game. He is a player that could very well have a breakout season next year. Johnny Jones will have a tough decision to make when it comes to who will be the starter at point guard. The advantage senior guard Anthony Hickey has over Quarterman is experience and scoring, while Quarterman is a better defender, rebounder and distributor. Keith Hornsby is another guy you will see log significant minutes next season. Hornsby can flat out shoot the ball and will provide good depth on the wing. He did not play last year due to transfer rules. Two players you might see in an expanded role next year is guard Malik Morgan and center Darcy Malone. Morgan can already shoot the three, he just needs to work on being more consistent on defense. Malone is a big man that can stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting yet get some buckets down low due to his post moves. His problem is his size. Malone is 7 feet tall, but skinny as a rail, putting him at a disadvantage when guarding the post against thicker guys. If he can put on a good 20-30 pounds you will more than likely see the Australian get some more playing time.
Incoming Players: I say players instead of freshman because of incoming JUCO prospect Josh Gray, who will undoubtedly play a huge role for the Tigers next season. Gray averaged 34 points, 6 assists and just under 4 rebounds a game in his last season at Odessa JC. Don’t be surprised to see him starting from day one at one of the guard positions. The other huge get for Johnny Jones is Top-100 Center Elbert Robinson. Robinson, unlike Gray, is a freshman. Elbert is 7’1 and will give the Tigers a rim-protector to go alongside Jordan Mickey. Robinson provides size that LSU fans have not seen in a long time. These two will be keys to LSU’s success next season. Other incoming freshman are forward Aaron Epps and guard Jalyn Patterson. Both are guys that have upside but need time to develop.
The future is bright for LSU basketball. Johnny Jones has brought in talent that will have LSU competing with some of the top teams in the country. This season will be a huge one for the LSU Basketball Program.