With just two days remaining before the official start of practice, a few members of the LSU basketball team met with the media Wednesday afternoon to talk about what they got done during the offseason and what they expect from the 2018-19 season.
The Tigers enter the season with high expectations with a loaded freshman class solidified by a group of upperclassmen with experience at the college level and with head coach Will Wade’s system.
The most notable of these upperclassmen is sophomore Tremont Waters, who burst onto the scene with a spectacular freshman campaign in which he averaged 15.9 points, 6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2 steals per game as he helped lead LSU to an National Invitational Tournament berth.
Waters had a busy offseason, first testing the waters for his potential entry into the NBA Draft, then improving himself as a player and a leader after deciding to return to LSU for a second season.
He said he’s looking forward to a decreased workload from a statistical standpoint this season as a slew of highly-touted incoming freshmen will surround him and help carry the load.
“There’s obviously still a lot on my shoulders, but there isn’t as much scoring I have to do,” Waters said. “I can manage the game more, shoot whenever they need me to score and just play my game and make everyone better.”
Waters said he learned a lot through the process of potentially joining the NBA draft, and now he feels he has a better grasp of where he needs to improve to make himself a more attractive prospect for NBA teams going into next year.
With incoming freshmen that include Naz Reid, Emmitt Williams, Ja’Vonte Smart and Darius Days – all of whom chose LSU despite being recruited by some of the top programs in the country – the hype surrounding this team of Tigers is virtually unparalleled in modern LSU basketball.
Talk a deep NCAA Tournament run has even begun to float around, but the Tigers aren’t even thinking about that yet.
Junior guard Skylar Mays said he actively wants to avoid comparisons to the 2005-06 team that made it to the Final Four because this year’s edition of the Tigers is yet to prove they will live up to that standard.
“At the end of the day I think we have a lot of depth,” Mays said. “We have the right guys in the right spots. It’s better to have experience in the backcourt than the front court, if that makes sense.
“We have an overwhelming amount of talent. It’s up to us to get to work and put guys in the right place in the right time.”
A couple days after Wade called him one of the most improved returners on the team, forward Wayde Sims talked about what he did all summer to prepare for his junior season.
“I really worked on my shot,” Sims said. “I’ve been working on transferring from the 4 to more of a 3-spot. I’ve been working on my guard skills, and I’ve been in the gym more working on my game.”