Will Wade not finished with LSU’s 2017-18 roster yet

By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor

Will Wade has already given LSU’s basketball roster a major overhaul, bringing in six new players alongside a brand new staff.

He’s not done yet, either.

Speaking with 104.5 ESPN’s “Off the Bench” this morning, Wade responded to a question on whether or not he was done re-tooling the 2017-18 roster with a definitive “no.”

“We don’t have to be done until August,” Wade said. “We’ve got plenty of work still to do. We’re going to see who wants to work hard this summer, be about the right things on and off the court. Those who do will have the privilege to wear LSU across their chest next year. Those who don’t can find somewhere that maybe better fits their needs.”

Will Wade: 6-22-17

The Tigers are currently in the midst of summer workouts, which consist of eight hours per week of strength and conditioning (six hours) and skill work (two hours). Wade is heavily emphasizing defense after LSU finished the 2016-17 season 2-16 in SEC play behind porous defense. Wade said the Tigers were the second-worst Power 5 defensive team since 2002 last season, which is why his squad is spending its three 40-minute weekly sessions focused solely on that side of the ball, with an emphasis on communication, positioning, and taking charges.

“Sometimes I think I’m out there speaking Chinese on some of the stuff,” he joked. “But we’ve got some long athletic guys. If you play with great effort, you’re going to be a pretty good defensive team.

LSU’s latest roster change could be caught in a bit of a snag. The Tigers landed the commitment of 6-foot-11 Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams earlier this week, but Wednesday night, The Daily Emerald reported Bigby-Williams was under investigation for sexual assault allegations stemming from a September 2016 incident at his former junior college in Wyoming.

Wade cannot comment on Bigby-Williams, as the player has not signed any formal paperwork to attend LSU, but he did speak to the kind of culture he intends to implement in Baton Rouge.

“I thought the first thing we needed to do was shore up the roster and start creating a culture and a set of standards that are higher than maybe we’ve had here in a while and see which guys are going to rise to those high standards and which guys may not rise to those standards,” he said.

Thus, the influx of new talent, which includes two prior LSU signees in forward Galen Alexander and guard Brandon Rachal, as well as five new signees: North Texas transfer Jeremy Combs, a power forward; junior college transfer Daryl Edwards, a combo guard; Bigby-Williams, a power forward/center; and freshmen Mayan Kiir and Tremont Waters, top-100 prospects in the 2017 class. Those additions, plus a new attitude and approach, “give us a puncher’s chance to have a competitive year this year,” Wade said.

“If we want to win in November, we’ve got to win every day now,” he said. “Everybody wants to win on game day. It’s who wants to win in the middle of June, in the dog days of summer. Our guys have been working hard.”

Recruits: “Differentiate Yourself”

Wade’s ability to land so many prospects hinges on a particular pitch he’s crafted for the 2017 class, and one that could work for 2018 recruits like Baton Rouge five-star point guard Javonte Smart: be different.

“If you want to be great, do it somewhere different,” Wade said. “The players make the school. The school didn’t make the players. What better thing to do than to be a part of building this program, taking it from the ground up. Let’s face it, we’re in last place in the SEC right now.

“If you’re a 6-10 post player, in Mayan’s case, or a 5-9 point guard, in Tre’s case, how are you going to differentiate yourself from the other big guys in the draft? How are you going to differentiate yourself from the other guards in the draft, especially being a smaller guard? You’re going to differentiate yourself by winning at a program that wasn’t winning before you got there.”

The fact that LSU has 12 players in the NBA currently who have earned a large chunk of the $250 million ex-Tigers have made over the past decade is only gravy.

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Cody Worsham

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