PITTSBURGH — So now the waiting game begins for the LSU men’s basketball team, specifically when it comes to All-Southeastern Conference forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey.
With Thursday night’s 66-65 season-ending loss to N.C. State in a second-round NCAA tournament game, in which LSU blew a 14-point lead in the final nine minutes, the Tigers probably were ready to move on the minute they walked out of Consol Energy Center.
But other than trying to figure out exactly what happened in the closing minutes against N.C. State, trying to figure out who’ll be back and who won’t — especially Martin and Mickey — will be the biggest question for the program going forward.
The sophomores explored their NBA options following their freshman seasons before deciding to return to school and likely will seek evaluations on how they fit into this year’s draft in the next couple of weeks.
The deadline to apply for early eligibility for the draft is April 26; the draft is June 25.
Martin made his intentions known pretty early in the process a year ago, when he didn’t accomplish what he wanted to in an injury-plagued first season, but he could need more time to weigh the pros and cons this spring after leading LSU in scoring and ranking second in rebounding.
“I don’t have a time period on it right now,” Martin said following the tough loss. “When I get back to Baton Rouge, after a few days I’ll get with coach (Johnny) Jones and my parents, and we’ll come to a conclusion.”
Martin averaged 16.9 points in shooting 50.9 percent from the field and pulled down 9.2 rebounds. He’s ranked as the 32nd overall prospect on the CBSSports.com draft board and has been projected as a late first-round pick to early second-rounder.
Mickey ranked second in scoring at 15.4 points even though his stats dropped over the final 10 games, when he dealt with a shoulder injury and iron deficiency. He connected on 50.4 percent of his shots from the floor.
He led the SEC at 9.9 rebounds per game and also led the nation in blocked shots with 3.6.
“I don’t have a time frame on that right now,” Mickey said, nearly echoing Martin’s comment about his future. “Whenever I decide to think about it, that’s something I’ll talk about with the coaching staff and my family and make the best decision I can.”
Mickey, who waited until the last minute before deciding to return last year, is ranked by CBSSports.com as the 57th overall prospect.
In a couple of mock drafts, both players were projected to go early in the second round.
NBADraft.net has Mickey going with the second pick of the second round, 32nd overall, to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Martin going with the next pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com has Martin going 35th to Philadelphia and Mickey being chosen with the 38th pick to the Utah Jazz.