See the bottom of this story for links to previously penned profiles on No. 1 Anthony Hickey, No. 2 Johnny O'Bryant and No. 5 Shavon Coleman.
When senior Andre Stringer looks around these days, he won't see anybody who walked in the door at LSU with him a little more than three years ago.
SG Andre Stringer
Gone are his fellow Class of 2010 brethren (a group many forget was a top-20 class), including Jalen Courtney, now at Morehead State; Matt Derenbecker, now at UNO after a stop at Dayton; and Ralston Turner, now eligible to play at North Carolina State after sitting out last season. For that matter, the coaching staff that recruited Stringer has also moved on, mostly to the Fort Worth area.
But, despite all the changing faces, Stringer has remained a constant in the LSU backcourt, playing in 91 games over three seasons (not missing a game in his freshman or junior campaigns), while starting 79 times. And, after going through more valleys than peaks, Stringer is ready to help the Tigers reach the NCAA Tournament in his final go-round in purple and gold.
"That's big in my mind, obviously," Stringer said recently of going out on a high note. "Talent-wise, I think we have guys that we didn't have in previous years. I think we have a great chance at success, and it's going to make me feel good to leave out on the best mark possible."
Projected to start at shooting guard, Stringer can best contribute to LSU's success in 2013-14 by continuing along his career three-point accuracy arc and stretching the floor for a more talent-laden team.
As a freshman Stringer connected on only 29.5% of his efforts from downtown. That number inched up to 31.7% in his sophomore season before elevating to 40.9% last year as a junior, when Stringer poured in an average of 2.2 made threes per game. The Jackson, Miss., native enters the new campaign tied for eighth on LSU's career three-point list with 168 made trifectas.
His coach, Johnny Jones, said there were several factors which led to Stringer's improved outside touch a season ago.
"It's a combination of him continuing to work and also his shot selection," explained Jones. "With the guys around him, he doesn't feel the pressure or think he has to take certain shots. He understands he has other teammates on the floor. I think he understands if Johnny (O'Bryant) gets double-teamed down low then he will be able to get better shots because of it."
Something else that should keep Stringer's mind more at ease this season: Jones doesn't plan on stealing minutes with him at point guard if he can help it. As Jones put it, Stringer has been far too valuable in his current position off the ball, and he'd prefer to let his senior concentrate his efforts there.
"Our problem is trying to find a third point out of this group, someone else that can move over there just in case it be injury, foul trouble, and depth at that spot," said Jones. "He [Stringer] could be that guy. He can spot us there at times and be able to play out there. He's had that role before, but he's shot the ball so well that you would hate to disturb that role he's been able to play from that two position."
Stringer will also keep himself on the floor with his defensive abilities. In fact, at LSU Media Day last week, Jones referred to Stringer as "one of the better defenders" on the Tigers' team a year ago.
Expect him to combine with fellow senior Shavon Coleman and freshman Tim Quarterman to give LSU its three best perimeter defensive options. He doesn't steal a ton of balls (only averaged 0.8 spg in 2012-13), but Stringer, who does have obvious height limitations, has the strength and size to stay in front of opposing point guards and wings.
Finally, it can't be overlooked the kind of leadership Stringer brings to a squad with four true freshmen and a JuCo transfer. Along with O'Bryant, he's the one the others are following. The only question now is how far can he lead them?
What are you looking for from Stringer?
PG Anthony Hickey
F Johnny O'Bryant
F Shavon Coleman