After starting the season winning nine of 11 games, the Tigers hit a tough stretch of SEC play and dropped four of their next five outings.
LSU's future is bright with Jones at the helm
But Johnny Jones’ team proved their resiliency under the first-year head coach, winners of four of their last five games, including an impressive home victory over No. 17-ranked Missouri.
Jones, as it has been well-documented, played for LSU on the 1981 Final Four team as a freshman. He also served as an assistant coach for the Tigers under Dale Brown for 12 seasons, where he helped LSU return to the Final Four in 1986.
After taking over for Trent Johnson in April of 2012, Jones has led his team to a 13-8 record (4-6 in the SEC) in his first season as LSU’s head basketball coach.
Many will be quick to point out that 13-8 is not exactly an impressive record, but for a program that hasn’t been able to reach a high level of success since 2006 - when the Tigers reached the Final Four under John Brady - 13-8 is a welcomed sight.
There was the second round NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina during the 2008-09 season, but that is as far as LSU has been in the last six years. Although, with eight games remaining on the regular season schedule, it’s unlikely the Tigers will make the NCAA tournament in March, Jones’ squad is laying the foundation for the future at LSU.
One of the rebuilding blocks for the headman has been sophomore point guard Anthony Hickey. Hickey’s recent maturation has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers, and the former “Mr. Kentucky” is averaging 12.3 points a game and leads the country in steals (64).
Another integral piece to go along with Hickey has been 6-foot-9 sophomore Johnny O’Bryant III, who has been a monster on the boards with nine double-doubles this year.
But just as important has his efforts coaching from the sidelines, Jones was brought to LSU for his ability to recruit, and his first priority was keeping Louisiana talent at home.
If Jones’ first recruiting class is any indicator of what’s to come for the program, LSU fans should be very excited.
Jones got off to a quick start, signing five-star power forward Jarell Martin from Madison Preparatory in Baton Rouge. LSU’s first recruiting class under Jones is projected to finish in the top 10, with a trio of 247Sports Top 100 prospects in Martin, Tim Quarterman, and Jordan Mickey headlining the class.
With Jones ushering a top 10 class to go along with sophomores Hickey and O’Bryant III, LSU basketball figures to have a promising future, and that is something the program hasn’t been able to say in recent years.
If the Tigers stay on this path, LSU has hit a homerun with Jones.