Following the lead of a media panel last month, the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball coaches included LSU sophomore forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin on their preseason all-conference teams Thursday.
Mickey was on the first team and Martin was a second-team pick among the 17 players on the coaches’ list. The coaches put nine players on the first team and eight on the second.
Mickey was on the first team and Martin was a second-team choice when the conference released the vote of a media panel at SEC media days last month.
Mickey and Martin were both on the SEC All-Freshmen team a year ago. Mickey, who averaged 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds and led the league with 3.1 blocked shots a game, also earned a second-team nod on the All-SEC squad a year ago.
Eleven schools were represented on the coaches’ team.
Kentucky, a heavy favorite to win the league title, had five players on the first and second teams. LSU and Florida were the only other schools to have multiple picks with two each. Vanderbilt sophomore center Damian Jones (Scotlandville) was a first-team pick.
LSU coach Johnny Jones was a bit relieved Thursday when he arrived for a media availability in advance of Saturday’s regular-season opener against Gardner-Webb.
Just 24 hours earlier, the LSU staff received a national letter of intent from the nation’s No. 1 recruit — 6-10, 225-power forward Ben Simmons of Montverde Academy in Florida.
“I thought we had a big day in Tiger basketball with the signing of Ben Simmons,” Jones said. “We’re excited because it’s been over a year since his commitment, but to finally get his signature on the first day was certainly a big relief … and we are excited about it.”
Simmons made a nonbinding commitment to the LSU program 13 months earlier.
“(His lengthy commitment) not only says a lot about Ben, but it says a lot about his family,” he said. “When they felt this was the right fit, they made that decision and they stood by that.
“I’m sure a lot of people were pushing and twisting, trying to maybe see if there was any way that they could get them to open their recruitment back up. They never wavered, and that says a lot about him and the type of person that we are getting.”
Ready to go
After a 71-47 win against Division II Morehouse College a week ago, the Tigers will begin the regular-season Saturday at noon against Gardner-Webb.
It will be the start of a busy opening stretch for the Tigers, who will play five games in a 10-day span.
After Gardner-Webb, LSU host Texas Tech on Tuesday night in the ESPN Tipoff Marathon.
The Tigers leave the next morning for the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, where they’ll play Old Dominion on Nov. 21 and either Illinois State or Weber State on Nov. 22 or 23 before completing tournament play Nov. 24 against an opponent to be determined.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.