LSU basketball team begins workouts for Australian tour _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU Tigers head coach Johnny Jones congratulates his players as they leave the court during a timeout in the Tigers' SEC home opener against Georgia, Saturday, Jan. 10, at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge.

One of the biggest benefits of the LSU men’s basketball team’s upcoming exhibition tour of Australia will begin to kick in Saturday.

More than three months before they can start preseason practice for the 2015-16 season, the Tigers will begin 10 days of workouts permitted by the NCAA that will allow coach Johnny Jones to get his team prepared for five games against Australian competition. The 10-day practice window will lead up to LSU’s Aug. 11 departure for Australia. The team returns to Baton Rouge on Aug. 23 for the start of the fall semester the next day.

Jones’ players have been getting the allowable two hours of instruction per week from the coaching staff during the summer semester, but can go through normal full-scale practices starting with a closed 6 p.m. workout Saturday.

Thirteen of the 14 players on the roster will be allowed to play in Australia. Among them are two Aussies — Ben Simmons and Darcy Malone.

Others who can take part in the tour are Keith Hornsby, Josh Gray, Tim Quarterman, Jalyn Patterson, Antonio Blakeney, Brandon Sampson, Aaron Epps, Brian Bridgewater, Elbert Robinson III, Brandon Eddlestone and Henry Shortess.

Forward Craig Victor, an Arizona transfer who won’t be eligible until the end of LSU’s fall semester Dec. 12, can travel with the Tigers but won’t be allowed to participate in the games or practices.

Like Simmons and Malone, LSU assistant head coach David Patrick will also have a homecoming as he grew up in Australia and later played pro ball there, earning the country’s National Basketball League rookie of the year honors.

Patrick was a teammate of Simmons’ father, Dave, with Melbourne of the NBL.

LSU will open the tour against a group of all-stars in Newcastle on Aug. 15 at 4:30 a.m. CDT and meet the NBL’s Sydney Kings on Aug. 16 at 4 a.m. CDT.

The Tigers will face another all-star team on the Gold Coast on Aug. 18 (4:30 a.m. CDT) before moving on to Melbourne for two games against Melbourne United on Aug. 20 (4 a.m. CDT) and Aug. 22 (4:30 a.m. CDT).