By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Will Wade’s first full recruiting class, already one of the best in the country, improved even more on Friday with the addition of four-star Florida forward Darius Days. Days joins five-star Naz Reid and Louisiana Mr. Basketball Javonte Smart in LSU’s 2018 recruiting class, giving the Tigers an elite player at point guard, wing, and inside, with time still for Wade to add another player or two to an elite haul. According to 247Sports.com’s Class Calculator, LSU now has the No. 3 ranked class in the country for 2018. Here’s what you need to know about Days.
(Stats courtesy of Open Look Analytics).
1. The Connection
LSU’s in on Days was Greg Heiar, who recruits the state of Florida for the program and has a very close relationship with Days’ family. Days, a Gainesville native, was a late-riser on the Under Armour circuit, and LSU was in on him early. “I love coach Wade, LSU has basically told me it’s a new staff and it’s a young staff that wants to build the winning culture,” Days told 247Sports.com this summer. “They’ve made it clear I could really leave my mark there. My first year there will be coach Wade’s second year with the program, so there’s the opportunity to grow together. Coach (Greg) Heiar, he’s been really good to talk with as well.”
2. The Four
Wade has spoken at length about the critical nature of the four-man in his system, and Days is a perfect fit at that position. “We have to require that guy to make a lot of decisions,” Wade says. “He is basically a two or three man out there at the four. The four next to the point guard is the most critical piece we have in our offense and how we do things. You have to make a lot of decisions at the four. You have to be a good shooter.” Days can do it all: shoot, pass, rebound, and defend. In 444 minutes on the Under Armour Association last season, Days posted a 117.4 offensive rating, a 56.8 true shooting percentage, and was one of only three players on the entire circuit to knock down at least 35 threes and grab at least20 percent of defensive rebounds. He averaged 18.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while knocking down 38.5% of his 3s and 82.1% of his free throws.
3. The Competition
LSU’s stiffest competition for Days was North Carolina, who offered him in August after days’ big summer. The Tigers are still playing catch-up in certain aspects of recruiting, particularly when it comes to facilities and administrative amenities, and it’s these specific areas where LSU had to be nervous with Days’ recruitment. The Tar Heels have unlimited resources and top-notch support structures, and while LSU is building toward that under Wade, it will take a while to be on a level playing field with the elites. That’s where relationship building, strength of brand, and Wade and his staff’s vision and program-building come into play, and that’s what they were able to sell Days on.
4. The Fit
As I alluded to earlier, LSU now has an elite wing in Days to pair with its elite point guard (Smart) and its elite big man (Reid). Smart has dipped on some recruiting rankings after the summer, but don’t let that concern you. He’s a big-time prospect whose commitment was vital in landing both Reid and Days. During Days’ visit in October, Smart was also on campus actively recruiting. He’s a well-connected player who other recruits want to play with. Meanwhile, the scouting report on Reid is that he’s the best player in the 2018 class when his motor is running, and Wade’s got a knack for getting motors running. Add in Days, who brings versatility and could, at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan, project as a four or five-position defender long term. Days is also a late-bloomer who some folks in recruiting circles could end up being the best of the bunch of forwards LSU was in on in 2018, including five-star Emmitt Williams and four-star Louisianan/Georgetown commit Josh LeBlanc.
5. The Future
LSU will certainly have one more scholarship available for 2018, with the graduations of Aaron Epps, Duop Reath, Randy Onwuasor, and Jeremy Combs, so they’ll still be in for another player. Williams could be that guy, but his arrest this week on sexual assault charges throws a monkey wrench into those plans for the time being. Heiar remains well-connected in the junior college ranks, so the Tigers could go that route if needed. Should Brandon Sampson breakout in 2017-18 and hear the call of the NBA, that could leave another spot to fill, so don’t be surprised if LSU is connected to a backcourt scorer in the coming weeks.
Potential 2018 LSU roster, by position and class
- Tremont Waters (soph.), Javonte Smart (fr.)
- Daryl Edwards (sr.), Skylar Mays (jr.)
- Brandon Sampson (sr.), Brandon Rachal (soph.)
- Wayde Sims (jr.), Galen Alexander (soph.), Darius Days (fr.)
- Kavell Bigby-Williams (sr.), Mayan Kiir (soph.), Naz Reid (fr.)
Walk-ons: Reed Vial (sr.), Marshall Graves (jr.)