It took a little while, but the LSU men’s basketball team finally picked up its third signee Wednesday when the Tigers’ staff received a national letter of intent from five-star guard Antonio Blakeney.
Blakeney, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Oak Ridge High School in Orlando, Florida, officially became the third piece to a recruiting class that has been ranked tops in the nation by 247 Sports and third by ESPN.com.
It was hardly a surprise since Blakeney announced Jan. 2 that he would join early signee and good friend Benny Simmons, the consensus No. 1 player in the nation, at LSU for the 2015-16 season.
The spring signing period opened April 15, but Blakeney didn’t immediately send in his scholarship papers because he was in Brooklyn, New York, for the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game and wanted to wait and sign in front of his family and classmates this week.
On Wednesday, Blakeney, the nation’s No. 14 prospect on the ESPN 100 list of recruits and Flrorida’s Mr. Basketball, made it official.
Blakeney’s signing came two days after Madison Prep guard Brandon Sampson, Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball and a four-star prospect, signed with coach Johnny Jones’ program Monday.
The signing of Sampson and Blakeney, along with Simmons, gives LSU the signature of three of the top 39 players on the ESPN 100 list. They’ll join forward Craig Victor, a transfer from Arizona, on the team next season. Victor is expected to become eligible in early December.
Meanwhile, it was reported that another LSU target, guard Malik Newman of Jackson, Mississippi, will announce Friday that he’s signing with Mississippi State.
But according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Newman and his father, former Mississippi State standout Horatio Webster, denied the story and said he’s still considering four schools: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kansas and Kentucky.
Blakeney averaged 29.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for an Oak Ridge team that went 22-7 this season and lost in the regional finals. He was named the state’s Class 8A player of the year and played in both the McDonald’s All-American game as well as the Jordan Brand Classic.
“Antonio will bring a different dimension to our basketball team with his ability to score,” Jones said in a university news release. “His ball-handling skills will allow him to play multiple positions. “Not only is he a dangerous outside shooter, but he can penetrate the defense and either score or make plays for his teammates.”
Tigers to Australia
Jones said Wednesday during an interview on “After Further Review” on WNXX-FM, 104.5, that his team this summer will tour Australia. Simmons is from Melbourne, Australia.
“It’s not a coincidence (we’re going to Australia) at all,” Jones said. “This was something that was planned really, with him in mind, having an opportunity for him to go home as well.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter: @MicklesAdvocate.