After grabbing the 19th spot in the USA Today coaches preseason poll last month, the LSU men’s basketball team came in at No. 21 in The Associated Press poll released Monday.
The No. 21 ranking marked the first time since the end of the 2008-09 season that LSU, which claimed the Southeastern Conference regular-season title that year, has appeared in the AP poll.
It’s the first time LSU has been in the preseason rankings since 2006-07 — the year after reaching the Final Four — and the 196th time the Tigers have been ranked since their first appearance on Dec. 16, 1952.
LSU compiled a 22-11 record last season en route to earning an NCAA tournament bid, its first since 2009. That year, the Tigers came in 19th in the final AP regular-season poll voted on by media.
While coach Johnny Jones lost All-SEC forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey to the NBA draft, the Tigers’ expectations are as high as they have been in years.
That’s mainly because of the return of guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Jalyn Patterson and Josh Gray as well as the addition of the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class.
The recruiting class includes consensus No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons, fellow McDonald’s All-American Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson, a former Madison Prep star who was Louisiana’s Mr. Basketball last season.
All three newcomers were among the top 39 players on the ESPN 100 list.
LSU, which has been selected to finish fourth in the conference race by a media panel, was the third SEC team to show up in the AP poll behind No. 2 Kentucky and No. 18 Vanderbilt.
Kentucky tied North Carolina for the top spot in the coaches poll, while LSU and Vanderbilt were 19th and 20th, respectively.
LSU will face Southwest Baptist in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Friday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and host McNeese State in the regular-season opener on Nov. 13.
AP PRESEASON POLL
(first-place votes in parentheses) followed by total points
1. North Carolina (35), 1,566
2. Kentucky (10), 1,520
3. Maryland (14), 1,487
4. Kansas (5), 1,410
5. Duke, 1,350
6. Virginia (1), 1,347
7. Iowa State, 1,185
8. Oklahoma, 1,088
9. Gonzaga, 1,047
10. Wichita State, 1,032
11. Villanova, 1,013
12. Arizona, 917
13. Michigan State, 838
14. California, 757
15. Indiana, 755
16. Utah, 499
17. Wisconsin, 433
18. Vanderbilt, 393
19. Notre Dame, 360
20. Connecticut, 307
21. LSU, 267
22. Baylor, 265
23. Purdue, 236
24. Butler, 223
25. Michigan, 126
Tipoff Luncheon set
The fourth season of monthly Tipoff Luncheons with Jones begins Tuesday at the L’Auberge Hotel and Casino with Lady Tigers’ coach Nikki Fargas serving as guest speaker.
During the monthly gatherings held throughout the upcoming season, Jones will speak about his team and answer questions from the media and audience.
The luncheons will be held in the Bon Temps Buffet, which is located on the ground floor of the resort in the casino area. The buffet, which costs $14.99 per person, is available at 11:30 a.m. and the program begins at 12:10 p.m.
Simmons on ‘Dr. J’ list
Simmons is among 20 players named to the preseason watch list for the 2015-16 Julius Erving Award, which will be presented following the season to the nation’s top small forward.
Now in its second season, the Julius Erving Award was presented for the first time last season to Duke’s Justise Winslow.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.