Adjustments are a big part of a freshman athlete’s learning curve, from the grind of school, to the freedom of being on their own to where they fit within the framework of their team.
Wayde Sims was prepared for all those different angles, in large part because he has been working toward playing Division I basketball from the time he could grip a ball.
Sims is one of four LSU newcomers set to make their semi-official debut Monday night when the Tigers take on Reinhardt University in an exhibition game at the PMAC at 7 p.m.
And the former University High star has been looking forward to this night for a while.
The son of former LSU guard Wayne Sims and cousins with fifth-year Tigers’ coach Johnny Jones, Sims doesn’t bother to mask his excitement about stepping on a court he has dreamed about for so long.
“I can’t wait to get out there and see what it’s like at this level,” Sims said recently. “This is what you work hard for.”
That may apply to Sims as much as any of the four new faces Tiger fans will see Monday.
Not that Duop Reath, Skylar Mays and Kieran Hayward haven’t put in their time. To the contrary, Jones said all four healthy newcomers have all impressed him in pre-season work.
With Sims, though, there has been the added burden of transitioning to a new position after a dominant five-year career as a big man.
The 6-foot-6 Baton Rouge native has slid to a wing/small forward spot for LSU and he figures to earn plenty of minutes as Jones’ program continues to evolve into a position-less style.
“I’ve been working hard to learn the guard spot because that’s where Coach Jones has put me,” said Sims, who averaged 21.2 points and 9.5 rebounds as a U-High senior last year banging around inside. The Cubs won a third straight state crown with him as the ringleader.
“I’m playing at the 3, and the coaches want me to run with that and learn all I can about the position. I’m working on it extra in my own time because I want to make sure I’m the best player I can be at whatever spot the coaches want me to play.” http://www.scout.com/college/lsu/story/1723187-with-pressure-on-can-jone...
Should Sims quickly master the spot – and his prep career indicates that he’ll excel wherever he plays – it would give LSU some versatility on the perimeter, which figures to be a Tigers’ strength this season.
Sophomores Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson are poised to flank either Jalyn Patterson or Mays – the two point guards – and give LSU plenty of firepower from the perimeter. Should Jones opt to plug Sims into one of those spots from time to time, the athletic freshman would be more of slasher, get-to-the-rim threat if defenses are sagging back.
“I think he's done a good job of transitioning from high school and I’m looking forward to him being out onto the floor,” Jones said. “We’ve moved him from the post area, playing inside, more to the perimeter now.”
An added advantage of Sims and Mays playing together is that they know each other as any players on the LSU roster.
The two were at U-High for four years and have one of those unique symbiotic relationships that allows them to know where to zag when the other one zigs.
“It’s great to be back together with Skylar,” Sims said. Mays spent last season at Findlay Prep in Nevada.
“We know each other really well and that’s going to help us when we’re out there together. I think other guys will play well with him, too, because he’s become more of a leader and more vocal. He knows how to get guys in places they need to be in.”
The connection with Mays isn’t the only comfortable bond for Sims.
He has been close to Jones for years and that relationship is a big reason why he wound up at LSU.
But Sims also knows there is necessary separation between coach and cousin.
“He’s always looked out for me on and off the court,” Sims said. “It’s OK for him to still be that father figure away from the court because he’s a father figure to all of us. On the court, though, he’s my coach and I respect him that way. I’m excited to learn a lot from him.”
Monday is the only public exhibition for the Tigers, who met Tulane in a closed scrimmage last week. LSU officially lifts the lid on the season at 1 p.m. Saturday against Wofford in the PMAC.