While the annual football showdown between LSU and Alabama in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night is huge, it will be a big weekend as well for the team that plays its games just across the street.
As is the case almost every weekend during a contact and evaluation period, the LSU men’s basketball coaching staff will host several recruits when the 14th-ranked Tigers and fourth-ranked Crimson Tide meet in front of about 100,000 excited fans — or more.
“It’s unbelievable, the atmosphere there in Tiger Stadium,” said LSU coach Johnny Jones, who will be in the throng Saturday night. “It’s like none other. It’s the No. 1-rated stadium in the country, and anytime you expose that type of atmosphere (to recruits) some things happen to you.
“It’s always important for us to try and get as many recruits on campus as possible, and I think that’s throughout all our sports at LSU. That’s a huge recruiting tool.”
Among those expected to be on campus are Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-8 small forward from Montverde, Florida, who committed to LSU more than a year ago. Simmons is the nation’s top-rated player for the Class of 2015.
Also in for an official visit will be 6-4 guard Antonio Blakeney, according to his Twitter account. Blakeney, a Sarasota, Florida, native who’s ranked as the nation’s No. 17 overall prospect and No. 3 shooting guard by 247 Sports, de-committed from Louisville in mid-September. He recently took official visits to Kentucky and Missouri.
MICKEY, MARTIN RECOGNIZED
LSU sophomore forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin have earned spots in ESPN’s compilation of the top 100 players for the upcoming season.
The 6-foot-8 Mickey, a preseason All-Southeastern Conference first-team choice, checked in at No. 48 after averaging 12.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-best 3.1 blocked shots last season.
The 6-10 Martin, a former Madison Prep star, was picked at No. 98 after averaging 11.4 points per game in SEC play as a freshman despite missing time with a sprained ankle he suffered in the regular-season opener.
In choosing Mickey, ESPN selectors wrote: “The Tigers haven’t reached the NCAA tourney since 2009. But Johnny Jones hopes to break that streak as Jarell Martin and Mickey, an athletic forward who topped 100 blocks last season, lead the program.”
Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com included point guard Josh Gray, who averaged 34.7 points per game at Odessa (Texas) College last season, as one of his top 10 junior-college transfers (players were chosen in no particular order).
Rothstein also chose shooting guard Keith Hornsby, who played two seasons at UNC-Asheville before sitting out last season at LSU, as one of the nation’s top transfers to watch.
ALMOST GAME TIME
After a closed scrimmage at Northwestern State last Saturday, the Tigers play the second of two allotted preseason tune-ups with an exhibition game against Division II Morehouse College at 7 p.m. Friday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
There is no admission charge for the game. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis with doors to the Maravich Center opening at 5:30 p.m.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.