Countdown to Tip-Off: 11 Days

With two years under his belt, point guard Anthony Hickey returns to LSU for his junior season in 2013-14. TSD publisher Ben Love previews the upcoming season on the hardwood for Hickey, who has company at the point for the first time in purple and gold.

Every day until LSU basketball tips off its 2013-14 season at Massachusetts on Nov. 12 (10 a.m. CST, ESPN), TSD will feature a player profile on one of the 11 scholarship players on the roster. Our "Countdown to Tip-off" will go in numerical jersey order, starting with the lowest.

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PG Anthony Hickey
# 1
Class: Jr.
Size: 6-11/182
Position: PG
2012-13 Stats: 11.2 ppg, 2.9 spg, 38.6%FGs
Projected Minutes: 26.0 mpg
For the first time since Anthony Hickey arrived at LSU, the Tigers have another SEC-level point guard on the roster in freshman Tim Quarterman. The four-star prospect from Savannah, Ga., will do something neither Chris Bass nor Corban Collins before him could do – ease the workload on Hickey, who averaged a team-high 33.0 minutes per game last season.

According to recent reports, Quarterman may also have a shot at supplanting Hickey as LSU's starting point guard. Now, while that may be premature, two things are certain when it comes to the Tigers' newfound depth at the one.

First, as referenced above, there will be a timeshare of sorts, meaning Hickey will be fresher in crunch time, when he's usually pretty good anyway (ask Mississippi State), and down the season's stretch. Second, in the motivation department, head coach Johnny Jones now has someone in Quarterman he doesn't mind handing the reins over to at the point when he wants to get Hickey's attention.

It's needing to use that leverage, at least for off-the-court behavioral reasons, that LSU fans – and Hickey – are hoping is a thing of the past .

"I just have to keep staying focused, keeping my head looking forward and try to lead this team to where we need to be," Hickey told TSD recently before reflecting on the events of early last season. "That was a learning point for me. Everybody makes their mistakes and has to go through what they go through. I went through mine, and now I'm here. I'm just going to keep being positive and moving forward."

On the court there is plenty to be positive and bullish about when it comes to Hickey.

LSU's two-year starter at point guard finished his sophomore campaign third in the country and tops in the SEC in steals per game (2.93). Jones believes Hickey can even improve on that total now that the Tigers' regular rotation features more players with length.

"I think the steals mainly came off the ball, and he was great at anticipating," explained Jones. "With our pressure last year, I have to say Anthony was more like a defensive back. He can read the eyes and their shoulders. He did a great job of anticipating and getting steals. I think he will do a better job this year with the length (of our team), and it will force more teams to lob balls."

Where Hickey has to improve on the defensive end is in halfcourt sets, staying in front of his man and not trying to take the easy way out with reaches (especially with the new hand-checking rules). That's something the player said was an area of emphasis during his summer workouts.

Offensively, Hickey finds himself in an interesting place. After going through his freshman season in Trent Johnson's slow-down, physical style, he changed gears literally a season ago under Jones, more often than not encouraged to speed up opponents with his dribble and in transition. The sentiment from Jones, now with an even deeper team, will be much the same this season.

However, Hickey will have to make two key adjustments, and one sort of ties into the other.

The first is his shot selection and efficiency in shooting. In his two seasons at LSU, Hickey has shot 38.4% and 38.6%, respectively, from the floor. Tack on to that the fact that he only attempted 45 free throws last season (and shot only 44.4% from the stripe), and it's obvious Hickey settled for a ton of perimeter jumpers.

The second adjustment is that he'll have to be a more willing and capable distributor. With the addition of Quarterman, who apparently lives to drop dimes and has to be encouraged to shoot, LSU has somebody else that can feed all the other plentiful options this team has accrued. Hickey will have to learn that those bad shots from last year can turn into better opportunities many times for Johnny O'Bryant, Andre Stringer, Jarell Martin, etc. Simply put, LSU's point guards shouldn't be bearing as much of the scoring load in 2013-14.

What do you expect from Hickey's junior season?

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