Jones: No Victor for LSU until December

LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones updated the status of transfer forward Craig Victor for this season and for the upcoming Australia trip.

LSU basketball transfer Craig Victor is not likely to be eligible until mid-December, head coach Johnny Jones told TSD publisher Ben Love Tuesday afternoon on "Bumper to Bumper Sports" on 103.7 FM (KLWB) in Lafayette.

According to Jones the pursuit of a hardship waiver for Victor, a New Orleans native who came to the program in January from Arizona, has more or less hit a dead end.

"It looks like he won't be available for us until early December, after finals. So roughly hopefully around December 12 or 13, around that area, if things go well that may be his first time to take the floor for us," Jones said. "At the same time it's going to give those other guys ample opportunity to get some valuable experience against some really tough teams. And when you add him prior to conference play, that's going to be a huge factor for us.

"I think Craig is going to be an impactful player for us, but the way things look right now he may not be able to play for us until December. I was hoping he'd get the (hardship) waiver, but right now it doesn't look like that's going to be the case."

Victor represents one of the Tigers' best options in the frontcourt, a physical 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward capable of playing the four and at times the five for LSU.

Minus NBA Draft picks Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, and down Victor for the first semester, Jones is looking for young bigs to step up as opposed to tossing a four-guard lineup around freshman sensation Ben Simmons.

"Obviously if Craig's not there, I think with the improvement of our big men (we'll be okay)," explained Jones of the early season. "We're looking for Elbert Robinson and Darcy Malone to hopefully be able to make some strides. They were put in a tough situation last year. It was hard to get into the rotation.

"This year we're going to be prompted, our hand will be forced and we'll see those guys early on. Don't forget about Aaron Epps as well who has great size, length and can also play inside, which he will early on this season for us. We'll be a fast, quick basketball team."

Another important point surrounding Victor's eligibility is the upcoming Australian tour the Tigers will embark on in the next two weeks.

Per Jones, Victor will be allowed to go on the trip even though he can't play or practice. And it took some leniency to get that much.

"He can't practice nor can he play on the Australia trip, but the NCAA has lifted a rule that will allow him to travel with us," Jones continued. "So he can really enjoy the experience that our other guys will get traveling abroad - the education and history he'll be able to share in and learn there. So kudos to the NCAA for allowing that to take place."

As for how many games Victor will miss during the 2015-16 regular season, it's impossible to put an exact number on it as LSU's schedule has not yet been finalized or announced.

The former St. Augustine and Findlay Prep (NV) standout will definitely miss the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn Thanksgiving week and, by my estimation, could miss between 6-8 ballgames total.

The important distinction, however, confirmed today by Jones, is that Victor is expected to be eligible - able to practice and play - as soon as exams are complete in the first semester, not at the beginning of the second semester in January.

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