The Southeastern Conference this year will surprise many
and it shouldn’t because each team within the conference has gotten a lot better from the bottom dwellers to the top dogs within the SEC.
One of the reasons why is because of the big men (power forwards, centers) who have played in the SEC during the last ten years. Currently, the SEC has a bunch of talented big men. A lot of them play for Kentucky, who is a national power house.
Another school within the SEC attempting to change the scenery with boasting giants of their own, is the Louisiana State Tigers.
The LSU Tigers have a deep roster of forwards and centers that have the size to rival most NBA frontlines. As for Kentucky, they might be the only school within the SEC that might be able to say they have a better frontline.
The star of the team is sophomore Jordan Mickey. The 6’8″, 220-pound super-athletic power forward from Dallas, last season was breathtaking for LSU.
The stat line from his freshman season alone was awesome as he scored 12.7 points a game, grabbed 7.9 rebounds and blocked 3.1 shots a game. Mickey showed that he can not only defend but also score as he had nine double doubles, which ranked him third in the SEC last year.
Within the conference, Mickey led the SEC in blocks per game average and became the second LSU Tiger in school history to record 100 blocks in a season. The only other person to do that in LSU history is future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. With Mickey’s shot swatting season, he already finds himself seventh all-time in blocks at LSU.
If Mickey can repeat his performance and increase his scoring average LSU will have a punchers chance to win the SEC. It could be a strong prediction that Mickey might be able to average a double double next year which is not seldom done in college basketball.Another one of Mickey’s teammates that can dominate, is 6’10″ forward Jarrell Martin. He also is a blossoming talent for LSU and will be a force to watch next season. He averaged 10.3 points a game, and 4.6 rebounds.
The development of these two forwards mentioned above will be a major factor for the Tigers success next season. The more post touches these two can get it will make them hungrier on defense.
Though the shot blocking numbers may drop from last season, it does not take away from the defensive impact that will be on display in the paint for LSU. With a strong interior defense, it will cause players on offense to take difficult shots, not get to the free throw line, and not have easy chances to make lay ups and backdoor scores.
Another reason the LSU Tigers have excitement for next year, is because of a freshman they brought in named Elbert Robinson.
The 7’1″, 301-pound freshman has a good basketball ability and like Mickey, Robinson hails from Texas as well.
The massive size on Robinson, is a gift that he was born with. Entering college basketball, he understands that he could be even more of a force if he got into the right shape. If developed correctly, LSU might have landed one of their most heralded recruits in a long time (until next season, Ben Simmons).
During the match-up between LSU and SMU in the 2014 National Invitational Tournament, legendary Head Coach Larry Brown (only coach to win an NCAA & NBA title) gave glowing remarks about Elbert Robinson.
“Johnny is getting a really talented big guy in Elbert,” Brown said. “He’s got a chance to really special.”
“Johnny” being LSU head coach Johnny Jones. Jones will have his work cut out to getting Robinson in a decent playing weight. Luckily, Robinson himself seems motivated to lose weight because he understands he has monster potential.
In a media session with LSU Robinson had this to say about his playing weight:
“I’m down to 288 now and I want to be around 275-80 when the season gets here. I want to be more explosive and be able to get up and down the floor better than I ever have before….I’m going to work as hard as I can to get my body ready for college basketball and I can’t wait to see how that helps me grow as a player.”
Defensively, one of his Robinson’s strengths not giving up position. This is partly because of his size and because of his strength. Also, another underrated aspect of his game is the ability to block shots with either hand.
Offensively, Robinson already has a gifted touch around the basket. He can score in the paint and has a solid form.
Throw Robinson into the mix with Mickey and Martin and there is a making of a special frontcourt rotation.
Last year, the Tigers finished 20-14. They can improve on their wins by using their strengths of the team, their defense. Throwing the ball into the paint more will also substantially help them since they can slow the game down and control the tempo.
With center Johnny O’Bryant leaving for the NBA after last season, these three frontcourt players might be following in his footsteps soon enough. As for now LSU’s future is looking bright.
The season after could be an even better year for the Tigers, since Ben Simmons is the No. 1 recruit in the high school class and has already committed to LSU. The front line they boast now could be something special in 2016.
As for the present (2015), it will be a joy to watch Martin, Mickey & Robinson attempt to dominate the paint in a conference where Kentucky is king.
The No. 11-ranked Wildcats did lose to the Tigers last year. It could rightfully happen again.
Every dynasty does have its end.