By CODY WORSHAM
Tiger Rag Editor
Just a short walk from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, LSU’s latest signee put ink to paper, following in his father’s footsteps and beginning the process of leaving behind a few footprints of his own at LSU.
In front of friends, family, and classmates, four-star forward Wayde Sims signed his National Letter of Intent with the Tigers Wednesday afternoon at University High School’s Pennington McKernan Gymnasium.
For Wayde, who grew up watching LSU, where his father, Wayne, starred from 1988-1991, officially becoming a Tiger was the culmination of a lifelong dream.
“Today is pretty exciting,” Wayde said. “I’m ready to get to LSU, but first I have to finish off my senior year of high school. I’m just really excited to be a Tiger. I felt like that’s where my heart was and where I really wanted to be.”
Dad was equally as excited. Wayne played under Dale Brown and then-assistant Johnny Jones, and the two are kin, each hailing from DeRidder, La. (Wayde and Jones are cousin). That’s just one of the perks of watching his son sign his NLI.
“It’s awesome, especially when you see the free tuition, books, all that stuff checked off,” Wayne laughed.
Wayde, a 6-foot-6 combo forward, is the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana, after he led the Cubs to a second straight Class 3A championship, earning Outstanding Player honors at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Top 28 for the second year in a row. In 2014-15, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.1 assists, and 1.1. blocks per game on 62.8 percent shooting, including 27 points and 14 rebounds in the title game.
A two-handed player who finishes around the rim with left and right with equal ease, Sims has been used around the block for most of his high school career, but he projects as a perimeter player at the next level.
Joining Sims at LSU will be former high school teammate Skylar Mays, a four-star point guard who moved to Findlay Prep in Nevada this season. Mays, who plans to sign at Findlay on Friday, grew up playing with Sims, and the two have a palpable chemistry on the floor.
“They play so well together,” said Spencer. “They’ve played since they were real young. They just feed off each other. Skylar knows where Wayde is going to be, and Wayde knows the pass is coming. So a lot of times, he makes an unbelievable catch. People just see an alley oop or a catch and finish. They don’t understand it was a great pass, but it was also a great catch. Their chemistry, and the way they get along off and on the court, is great. I’m really happy they’re both going to be at LSU.”
Sims enters his senior year seeking a third straight state title, on a University High team featuring four seniors and plenty of big game experience. He’s also fine tuning his perimeter skills. And when he arrives at LSU in a year, he knows many of the fans who follow him now will be able to watch him play in a gym five minutes from the one he plays in now.
“Since I’m from here, I’m going to continue to have my local fans,” he said. “It’s different from going off to play somewhere I’d have to make new fans. I’m going to keep my local fans here.”
The biggest of them being dad, of course.
“He grew up LSU.” said Wayne. “We go to all the basketball games, football games. It’s in his blood.”
“He showed a couple years ago he could guard out on the perimeter, and to me that’s always the biggest indicator: can you guard the position you project at in college? He can do that,” said University High coach Joe Spencer. “He’s a good shooter now, a pretty good ball handler, and he’s continued to progress every year in both of those aspects. He can play inside, too. He’ll be a multi-dimensional player for LSU. He shoots threes. We run a couple of sets for him to get threes. He’s just so dominant inside, it’s hard to get him out there sometimes.”
Wayde and dad, former LSU forward Wayne Sims. pic.twitter.com/fbIhMhGnN1
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) November 11, 2015