All eyes will be on Raigyne Louis as LSU women’s basketball makes a final push into the postseason over the next few weeks.
When LSU hosts Ole Miss at 7 p.m. on Thursday, there will be no rival to Louis as the Lady Tigers’ undisputed leader. She’s the only senior on the roster and a four-year starter.
But that won’t be the case much longer
Even if LSU makes a push through the upcoming Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments, Louis only has a handful of collegiate games remaining.
After that, the role of leader falls squarely on the shoulders of Chloe Jackson.
Right now Jackson is the clear No. 2. Coach Nikki Fargas has, in the past, taken to referring to Jackson as the Robin to Louis’ Batman, a designation Jackson agreed with.
It’s allowed her to quietly focus on her own game and lead by example, while the more vocal Louis rallied the team.
Jackson took full advantage of the dynamic, scoring a team-high 18 points per game. She’s also tied for the most steals for the Lady Tigers this season with 48. She’s even outpaced Louis with 36.7 minutes per game.
The lead by example mantra worked often this season. On several occasions Jackson sparked a run for LSU with a personal shooting streak. Two examples of this were performances against Tennessee and the first Auburn game when she and Louis led comeback efforts in significant wins.
And leading by example is fine with Louis on the court beside her.
But even Jackson admits she’ll need to find her voice over the next nine months.
“I wouldn’t say (vocal leadership) is an absolute must, but I do need to find more of a voice,” Jackson said. “And it doesn’t have to be like yelling at somebody or anything like that. More so being able to pull them to the side and, even in practice, saying more.”
Fargas said Jackson has grown as a vocal leader over the course of this season.
It isn’t often, but when Jackson speaks up, her teammates listen.
That doesn’t mean Jackson doesn’t have a ways to go to be the complete leader LSU will eventually need, but it’s a start.
“She has the basketball IQ, it’s just conveying it to her team,” Fargas said. “That’s not a comfortable role for some of these young kids to be put in, but it’s one that’s going to be needed. When you look at what should be said in locker rooms and what should be said in the huddle, the competitive spirit of Chloe will take over.”
If there is a bright spot in LSU’s outlook next season it’s that Jackson won’t be alone.
This year, beyond Louis and Jackson, there were few established leaders for LSU. Louis was the lone senior and Jackson was one of three juniors.
Ayana Mitchell is considered part of LSU’s “big three” but only a sophomore this season and started 18 of 32 games as a freshman. LSU also had to find a new point guard and cycled through several other roles.
But all those new pieces will be returners next year that Jackson can lean on for support.
“You have to rely on your teammates,” Fargas said. “She has to rely on the other guards because we’ll have (Jaelyn) Richard-Harris back and Khayla Pointer, so we’ll have other guards who have played a lot of minutes. And then Ayana Mitchell just as far as someone who has played a lot of minutes this year. Those are players she can lean on and they can do it by committee.”