It's been a busy offseason for LSU coach Johnny Jones, entering his third year at the helm of the program.
Somewhere in between cross-country trips to see his son play summer basketball to watching former pupil Johnny O'Bryant at the NBA Combine to addressing crowds the last few legs of the Tiger Tour, Jones saw his roster take a few twists and turns.
And with the departure of three players from the 2013-14 team, including three-year starting point guard Anthony Hickey, the Tigers find themselves at 11 scholarship players, two short of the maximum allowed for the upcoming season.
In a recent interview with TSD, Jones indicated that while LSU is actively recruiting to fill the vacancies, he's comfortable with the way the roster is currently constructed.
"I think the way that our team's built, we generally play nine, 10 guys on a regular rotation in maximizing minutes, and we always want to make sure that we make as sound, solid decisions as possible so that we're putting guys in position to best help our team," said Jones. "So we won't just sign people to fill spots. That's not what it's about. We want to make sure that anybody we utilize those scholarships with will have an opportunity to possibly make an impact on our team. It takes some time to make sure that you do that."
To that end Jones ensured the Tigers will be very selective in recruiting the transfer market this summer, with the option of adding a more talented player down the line a distinct possibility.
"We have to make sure that we're conscious," explained Jones. "What happens is you can either bring guys in now, if they're available, or later, if they're a midseason transfer – someone not happy in a current situation that they may be in.
"There are a lot of scenarios and a lot of things can happen out there, so you just don't put yourself in a position because you can't even have somebody on your team (on scholarship) and then if that person out there decides to transfer at midseason, you can't bring them in on that scholarship because it's for a year. So you have to be very conscious in how you utilize those scholarships."
Continuing on that train of thought, Jones said it wouldn't surprise him at all if LSU began the fall semester with only 11 or 12 scholarship players.
"Yeah, certainly," Jones responded to the notion of coming in under 13. "The way that our team's built and the guys that we have in it and the impact that our walk-ons have made for us in practice, it's been good."
On a final, related note, Jones shared his two cents on how the roster has changed of late and where it leaves the Tigers.
He was emphatically clear that none of the three departures were "being run off," more that those players made decisions based on how the lineup for 2014-15 and beyond was shaping up and where they fit into it. According to Jones, that's just part of the landscape of modern college basketball every offseason.
"I think we're good the way that things have transpired," Jones said, taking into account the last two years of program-building. "I think we've added talent each year at a certain level and, when you do that and the talent level is raised and positions are defined and roles are defined, at the end people have to make certain decisions based on those things. A lot of times you may have some exodus. Those things can happen. It's just a part of it, but we can address that. I think our team has continued to take positive steps. When those things happen, sometimes it's good for all parties involved."