Pieces in place, pressure on at LSU
What LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones has done on the recruiting trail since arriving in Baton Rouge has been impressive. The Tigers have become a major force in the South, and again they pulled in a huge commitment on Monday with Brandon Sampson coming on board. Initially Sampson picked St. John’s as the school that he would spend his college time at, but following the dismissal of Steve Lavin as Head Coach, Sampson determined it was in his best interest to re-open his recruitment and see what was out there. Schools such as Oklahoma State, SMU, USC, UCLA, and Virginia Tech all reached out to Sampson along with LSU, but at the end of the day staying close to home was what he decided to do. This is huge because even though LSU lost to two potential NBA players in Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, the Tigers now have an absolutely loaded roster thanks to a very good 2015 recruiting class. Along with Sampson, five-star recruits Antonio Blakeney and Ben Simmons are already in the fold, and that means maybe no team in the country will have as much perimeter firepower as the Tigers. Solid senior Josh Gray returns at point guard, big time shooter Keith Hornsby at shooting guard, double figure scorer Tim Quarterman returns on the wing, and then Simmons could be as good as any player in college basketball play at the power forward. Also Arizona transfer Craig Victor can play power forward or potentially center gets eligible at semester break. With Blakeney and Sampson providing pop off the bench, the options for LSU will be significant. With such a talented roster, it means expectations will be high, and that means the pressure will squarely be on Jones to get this team to where many think they should. With Florida coming off of a season where they missed the NCAA Tournament and losing their most productive player in Michael Frazier, Kentucky crushed by defections to the NBA, and Arkansas losing their two best players, LSU might be the favorite in the SEC. To this point in his three seasons at LSU, Jones has made the NCAA Tournament once and it was a first round exit this year. This is all despite having Martin and Mickey controlling things down low for the Tigers. With one of the best rosters in the country, maybe the best roster in the league, and coming off of a solid season, there is no doubt fans will be expecting more in terms of wins during the regular season and also in the NCAA Tournament. Fairly or unfairly NCAA Tournament wins are how coaches tend to be judged, and for Jones the expectations will be high and the pressure will be on. It is a long way from March, but with the job Jones has done on the recruiting trail, the expectations for success that month will already be starting.
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