Early Signing Period Preview: LSU Basketball

The all-important early signing period for college basketball tips off Wednesday. TSD's Ben Love previews which future Tigers may ink early and where LSU stands with the rest of its 2015 Big Board.

Every year a week-long window opens in November for prep basketball prospects to sign in the early period. This time around the autumn opportunity runs from Nov. 12-19.

On the eve of such an important stretch in college basketball recruiting, TSD is updating the LSU landscape. Who’s still left on the Tigers’ Big Board in 2015? Which players are going to sign a National Letter of Intent in the coming week? Which players are still undecided when it comes to timing?

We’re answering it all and providing plenty of links as well as additional insider content for premium members to the site.

Here’s what we know and what we’re hearing on the following six prospects in play for LSU: Ben Simmons, Brandon Sampson, Antonio Blakeney, JaQuan Lyle, Jack McVeigh and Chad Lott.

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BEN SIMMONS


The first of two native Aussies LSU is heavily involved with in this class, Simmons is the Tigers’ only guaranteed signature in the early period. The five-star, rated Scout’s No. 2 overall player, is expected to sign Wednesday in a ceremony at Montverde Academy (Fla.) alongside three other teammates, including one-time LSU target Noah Dickerson, who will ink with the Florida Gators. A powerful yet versatile forward, Simmons, who lists himself at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds, is the best high school prospect to land with LSU basketball in at least two decades. He was in Baton Rouge this past weekend on an unofficial visit, helping put the sell on two of the recruits listed below.

Check out this excellent player evaluation of Simmons recently put together by Scout’s Rob Harrington.


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BRANDON SAMPSON


Sampson’s has become an intriguing – and difficult – recruitment to follow, both from the standpoint of where he’ll land and when he’ll sign. The hometown Tigers are still the favorite to land the Madison Prep four-star shooting guard, but there’s no denying Sampson (6-4, 180) also has eyes for UCLA and St. John’s . . . and to a lesser extent California and USC. The latest word from his coach is that no announcement is planned for Sampson in the early period but that he’s subject to change his mind. Consider him the most up-in-the-air prospect on LSU’s board when it comes to timing. May pull the trigger in the next week. May not. Be sure to click on the link at the bottom of this Sampson section for an important related note on his decision.

Here’s my interview with Sampson from late September following his official visit to LSU.


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ANTONIO BLAKENEY


The Oak Ridge (Orlando) five-star shooting guard, like Sampson, is torn between several programs, but, unlike Sampson, he seems to have made peace with the fact that he’ll sign in the regular period in April. A Louisville commitment for all of 11 days, Blakeney (6-4, 170) reopened his recruitment in mid-September, sending a flood of schools back into the chase for his services. He’s since taken official visits to Missouri, Kentucky and LSU (this past weekend) while maintaining he’ll give his one official left to either North Carolina or North Carolina State. LSU is in decent shape for Blakeney, who plays his summer ball with Simmons, but there’s undeniably a Big Blue shadow cast over things. Bottom line: It’ll be worth watching which, and how many, guards Kentucky takes early. There could be a trickle-down effect for the Tigers if things get too crowded in Lexington.

Read more on Blakeney, including the strength of his relationship with Johnny Jones, in my update with him from last week.


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JAQUAN LYLE


What a great surprise it’s been for LSU for Lyle to end up on the radar this late in the game. A former five-star prospect in 2014, Lyle committed and decommitted from Louisville last year before signing with Oregon, where he was ultimately denied admittance. Now enrolled at IMG Academy in Florida, Lyle, a 6-foot-5, 217-pound point guard, is reclassified as a 2015 recruit and he’s fresh off a “great visit” to LSU last weekend (see link below). Even though he says he’ll be eligible to play for someone in January, Lyle told TSD he’ll wait and enroll next season, meaning he will sign in April. But he said to be on the look-out for a commitment before then. He’s also considering Indiana, Missouri, Oregon, Ohio State and Xavier.

Check out what Lyle had to say about his LSU visit and connection with Simmons and Blakeney in an interview earlier this week.


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JACK MCVEIGH


McVeigh, a 6-foot-8 wing, is the second player from down under the Tigers are after in the 2015 class. He’s routinely been one of his country’s top U-17 and now U-19 players, competing favorably against a top prospect from 2014 like Jonah Bolden. Virginia, SMU, UCLA and Nebraska are among the programs also vying for McVeigh, but David Patrick and the Australian connection have LSU “in front,” per multiple sources. A trip to the States could still be in the making for McVeigh, who, like Lyle, is certain to sign in the late period. He’s a relative unknown for now in America, but that will change.

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CHAD LOTT


A three-star combo guard from C.E. Byrd (Shreveport), Lott has watched a few of his options dwindle in recent months. Gone from the running are Creighton, UNLV and Houston. He’s still hearing from Texas Tech and SMU, but Lott (6-2, 180) informed TSD he did not make his scheduled official visit to Lubbock a few weeks ago. Lott did take an official to LSU in late-October and was impressed (see link below), but questions remain as to whether he’s a take right now for the Tigers given all the other wing players – Sampson and Blakeney, namely – in the fold. The player said as recently as Friday that he’s unsure when he’ll sign, but with all the uncertainty, here’s betting he ends up an April signee.

Here’s my post-visit story on Lott going over the experience he and his parents had in Baton Rouge.



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