Now that the college basketball season has been completed, coaches around the country began focusing Tuesday on the next big date on the NCAA calendar.
That's the start of the spring signing period on April 17, when schools can begin filling out their rosters to reach the maximum of 13 scholarship players for next season.
Starting Thursday, when a one-week recruiting non-contact period ends, the scramble for players who didn’t turn in a national letter of intent during the early signing period in November will begin in earnest.
It won’t be any different at LSU despite the uncertainty surrounding still-suspended coach Will Wade, interim coach Tony Benford said Tuesday.
Benford and fellow assistants Greg Heiar and Bill Armstrong have carried on the program’s recruiting efforts since Wade was suspended on March 8.
They'll continue to do so to make sure the roster is well-stocked for the 2019-20 season and beyond, Benford said.
While three LSU basketball players have already applied for early entry into the NBA draft, two others are waiting to hear back from the leagu…
“We got to go out and see them until last Thursday,” he said of LSU’s current targets. “We’ll be back out on Thursday.”
During the early signing period last fall, the staff got the signatures of combo guard James Bishop of Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, and Charles Manning, a junior-college shooting guard from Florida SouthWestern State College.
LSU, which could have four available scholarships, is believed to still be in the hunt for at least three key prospects.
They are five-star small forward Trendon Watford of Mountain Brook, Alabama; four-star shooting guard Lester Quinones of IMG Academy in Florida; and 6-foot-10 forward Khadim Sy, who played this season at Daytona State College in Florida.
“We would like to get a couple of bigs, and maybe another wing,” Benford said Tuesday. “So we’re kind of looking at those areas, especially inside where we want to shore up the front line.”
Getting Sy, who started 28 games for Virginia Tech in 2017, would be a start in filling the void left by 6-11 senior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams and 6-10 freshman forward Naz Reid, who put his name in the NBA draft and likely won’t return to school.
An honorable mention National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-America pick, Sy, according to 247 Sports, is a heavy lean to LSU.
Watford and Quinones are each considering other schools, but both previously listed LSU among their finalists.
The nearly month-long standoff between suspended LSU basketball coach Will Wade and university officials took a new twist Thursday afternoon.
The 6-9 Watford, who is ranked 27th on the 247 Sports composite list, also had Memphis, Alabama and Indiana on his list although Duke entered the fray recently.
The other finalists for Quinones, the 65th-ranked prospect on the 247 Sports composite, are Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Georgia, Memphis and Ohio State before he added Florida last month.
LSU will likely have four more scholarships available if Reid and sophomore guard Tremont Waters decide to remain in the NBA draft.
Benford said he hasn’t heard anything negative from prospects regarding Wade’s situation, but there’s always going to be some of that on the recruiting trail.
“You know, kids are going to be worried about what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s the unknown, but that’s just human nature. You might have other schools that throw stuff out there, but that’s just recruiting.”
So what do they say to potential recruits when asked about Wade?
“We just tell them, ‘Hey, we’re in a wait-and-see mode, and hopefully, coach will be back,’” Benford said. “It’s all speculation, but people are going to throw stuff out there like that with Arizona and some other schools that are going through a similar thing.
“Also, there are a lot of kids out there transferring and there are lots of graduate kids out there, too,” he said. “So we’re going to continue to look at where we’re at and look at all situations.”