The Three Dog Night song “Never Been to Spain,” which was actually written by folk singer Hoyt Axton, doesn’t apply to Will Wade.
LSU’s third-year men's basketball coach will make a return there Monday when the Tigers begin a tour of the country with at least three games — maybe four — to be played during the 10-day trip.
Going into his second season at VCU in 2016, Wade took the same exact trip and liked it enough to go back after LSU’s seniors voted for it over Italy, Canada and The Bahamas.
“It’s the same itinerary, same tour company, even the same tour host — Javier — we used the last time we went there with VCU,” Wade said last week. “It was a great experience. We’re even in the same hotels … so literally, it’s the same everything.”
LSU’s most recent summer tour was to Australia in 2015, which was the lead-up to Ben Simmons’ only season with the Tigers.
NCAA rules allow teams to take one international tour every four years, giving players an opportunity to take in a different culture as an educational experience — which is what Wade wants the Tigers to do with stops in Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona.
The LSU basketball team will be a man short for the Tigers’ 10-day tour of Spain next month.
After getting 10 days of what amounts to preseason practice leading up to the trip, LSU will play games against all-star teams from Madrid (Aug. 15) and Valencia (Aug. 17) before facing the professional FC Barcelona “B” team (Aug. 21).
A fourth game is permissible, but Wade said he may not play that one.
Practice is also allowed, but he said he won’t hold any workouts between games in order to give the players enough free time for sightseeing and exploring in addition to the team-oriented activities that include a daily tour.
“I give our guys a lot of free time on their own where they can go explore and see a different culture,” Wade said. “As a team, we’ll go to different historical places.”
Having gone on several trips as an assistant as well, he knows how beneficial it can be.
“Every time I’ve been part of one, it’s been a team-bonding experience and a great overall experience for our players,” Wade said. “It’s really expedited things for our team in terms of being a little bit further ahead when we started preseason practice.
After watching the unveiling of the renovated LSU football operations center last week, men’s basketball coach Will Wade is hoping to get the …
“So hopefully, we’ll be able to capitalize on all those advantages.”
The highlight of the games will be the matchup with the FC Barcelona “B” team.
“There is usually one team we play that is really good,” he said. “The last time we were there with my VCU team that went to the NCAA tournament, it was a four-quarter dogfight, while the other games we won pretty comfortably.
“FC Barcelona’s B team will be really, really good. That’s a pro team. That will be a very, very tough game.”
Wade said when the Tigers started their 10-day practice window in late July, the goal was to have his team form an identity that will help them have a head start on preseason practice in late September.
He said guards Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart will probably only play about 15 minutes per game, while guard Marlon Taylor will make the trip but won’t play after having a screw inserted into his foot this summer.
LSU basketball coach Will Wade picked up a commitment Monday who will add height to a roster that lost big men Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Willi…
Wade said he’s more eager to see how freshman combo guard James Bishop and shooting guard Charles Manning, who was rated as the fourth-best junior-college player this spring, look in his new-look motion offense.
“I know (Mays and Smart) can play, and it’s not the point of us going over there,” Wade said. “We need to get these other guys major minutes and see how they react in different situations.”
He’ll also want to get a long look at freshman forward Trendon Watford, a 6-foot-9 five-star recruit, on the floor as well as forward Courtese Cooper and guard Aundre Hyatt, who both redshirted last season.
And, of course, he will want to see how much sophomore forwards Emmitt Williams and Darius Days have improved with one year in his program.
Wade said he typically starts a different lineup each game on the tour.
“It’s whatever I think will work,” he said. “We want to see different things, so we’ll definitely plan the lineups that way. We’ll get to see who plays well together and who plays well off each other … get a feel for that.”