With two scholarships left at his disposal, Will Wade has options to complete his 2018-19 roster.
One of them could be Brandon Cyrus.
The 6-foot-5 DePaul transfer has heard from the Tigers, among a host of other schools, since announcing his intent to leave after two seasons in Chicago on March 26.
Cyrus averaged 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds – including 54 offensive rebounds, which would’ve ranked third for LSU this season – in 27.4 minutes per game last season for DePaul, starting 23 of 31 games in his sophomore season after starting every game as a freshman. He shot 35 percent from 3 on 1.7 attempts per game and improved his shooting to 40 percent from 3 in conference play on the same number of attempts per game. He poured in 20 points, a career-high, in the Blue Demons’ regular season finale against NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed Xavier.
“He’s a great kid, super unselfish and all about the team winning,” Nick Diaz, an assistant coach at Torrey Pines High School, Cyrus’ alma mater, told Tiger Rag in a message. Diaz also serves as Cyrus’ trainer.
“(He) defends the opponents’ best player, guarded guys like Jalen Brunson and Trevon Bluiett in the Big East. Really takes pride in being a lockdown defender. Jump shot has improved a lot. Has played big competition his whole life so he’s experienced it all.”
Cyrus, who would have two years of eligibility left after sitting out the 2018-19 season, scored in double figures 18 times in two seasons at DePaul but developed a reputation as a defensive-minded player who often drew the other team’s toughest perimeter matchup. He also brings a “personality” Wade has mentioned his team needs moving forward.
“He has tremendous character and leadership for a guy that is so young,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said of Cyrus before the season. “All those things that make a program go, he possesses. He thinks beyond himself, which is tremendously important and a little bit rare in today’s athletes. His personality, his vibrance … he’s a high-energy guy, active, probably more athletic than he is skilled. He can make midrange shots, is a good defender and very good offensive rebounder.”
Diaz describes him as a “total gym rat” who “would spend every moment there if he could.”
“Just wants to help the team win and play for a coaching staff that loves him,” Diaz says.
Cyrus also appears to fit the criteria Wade is looking for on the transfer market. It’s likely Wade will sign one big and one wing with his remaining two scholarships. The big is likely to be a junior college player with immediate eligibility, while the wing could be, like Cyrus or 2017 LSU transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a player who has to sit a season. LSU is set to lose Daryl Edwards and Brandon Sampson to graduation after next season from its backcourt. His athleticism and length make him a natural replacement for Sampson following the 2018-19 season.
“We’ll take definitely another (transfer) that’s going to sit out and maybe one that can play or one that can sit out,” Wade said in March. “We need some guys with some personality. You need some guys who can help in those ways…We’re going to add another defensive-minded junior college kid or wherever we can find that’s got some toughness to ’em. We gotta add one more guy that’s got some toughness to him.”
Cyrus certainly has that quality to his game, given the way Leitao has spoken of him in the past.
“From the start of the recruiting process, you could see that Brandon’s spirit as an individual and his energy as an athlete is truly an asset for the program,” Leitao told the school website in 2016. “He has provided an energy that the guys can feed off…Certain guys exude confidence while others look to the coach to instill confidence. He gives me confidence in him, what he is all about and what he can do with the other guys on the floor. It bodes well for his maturity and personality. It’s an effervescence, and that’s how he lives his life.”
It’s still early in the process, but Diaz says Cyrus is looking for a place he can excel on the court and off of it.
“Wants a good academic school to graduate from and then pursue a masters as well,” Diaz says. “Would love to make the NCAA tournament and just be a part of winning culture and play for a staff that cares about him.”