SEC Media Day Basketball

LSU coach Will Wade speaks during the Southeastern Conference men's NCAA college basketball media day, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) ORG XMIT: ALBD177

An 18-win season combined with the nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class landed the LSU basketball team a spot in The Associated Press preseason poll released Monday morning.

LSU, which advanced to the second round of the NIT last season under first-year coach Will Wade, is No. 23 in the nationwide poll of sportswriters and broadcasters. The Tigers earned 187 points, behind No. 22 Clemson (268 points) and just ahead of No. 24 Purdue (170).

It was the first time since the first two weeks of Ben Simmons’ brief LSU career that the Tigers have been ranked in the AP's top 25.

Four other Southeastern Conference teams are ranked: No. 2 Kentucky, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 11 Auburn and No. 18 Mississippi State.

When last seen in the rankings on Nov. 23, 2015, the Tigers, who were coming off their first NCAA tournament appearance in five seasons, were 22nd after a 3-0 start.

But LSU fell to Marquette later that night in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, New York, and the next evening was beaten in overtime by North Carolina State.

Six days later, LSU tumbled out of the AP poll and Simmons and the Tigers went on to finish 19-14.

LSU was No. 21 in the preseason voting that season, then dropped to 23rd in the first regular-season poll. The Tigers moved up one spot to 22nd before the back-to-back setbacks in the Legends Classic.

At media day Monday, Wade labeled the ranking as "a bit generous."

"I like where we are and what we can become," he said.

Nearly three years later, Wade’s team was picked to finish sixth in the Southeastern Conference race.

In addition to preseason first-team All-SEC pick Tremont Waters, the Tigers return Skylar Mays and Daryl Edwards from last year’s squad as well as Kavell Bigby-Williams, who practiced with the team after his transfer from Oregon.

Wade’s recruiting class included five-star prospects in Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams, three-time Louisiana Mr. Basketball Ja’vonte Smart and Darius Days. Smart and Days were rated four-star recruits by 247Sports.

Wade also brought in Aundre Hyatt, who reclassified from the 2019 class, and junior-college transfers Marlon Taylor, Danya Kingsby and Courtese Cooper to fill out his roster.

LSU opens the season on Nov. 6 against Southeastern Louisiana in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.