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LSU interim head coach Tony Benford coaches against Vanderbilt, Saturday, March 9, 2019, at LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La. LSU won 80-59 to clinch the outright Southeastern Conference title.

LSU is still awaiting the fate of coach Will Wade and freshman guard Javonte Smart, at least as far as this week's Southeastern Conference tournament is concerned.

But Monday night, interim men's basketball coach Tony Benford delivered a sliver of good news: freshman forward Naz Reid is ready to go when the Tigers open SEC tournament play in Friday's quarterfinals.

Benford, speaking during the weekly Will Wade radio show, said that Reid has been cleared to play when No. 1-seeded LSU faces off against the winner of Thursday's second-round game between Florida and Arkansas.

The Tigers (26-5, 16-2 SEC) will play the Gators or Razorbacks at noon in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Naz is ready to go," Benford said. "He's be out to practice (Tuesday) and he's excited to go.

"I spoke to him earlier today and he's looking forward to getting out there. He's probably in the gym right now getting shots up. … He's looking forward to playing."

Reid watched from the bench Saturday during LSU's regular-season finale, an 80-59 victory over Vanderbilt, because of unspecified injuries.

Reid was bloodied from a hard shot to the mouth Wednesday late in LSU’s 79-78 overtime win at Florida and fell to the court at least two other times.

Benford said after the Vandy game that Reid was “going through protocol,” an indication that Reid may have suffered a concussion.

Benford was optimistic on Monday morning's SEC coaches teleconference that Reid was feeling better and would hopefully be ready to go in the tournament. Reid is LSU's third-leading scorer with 13.3 points per game and its top rebounder with 6.9 per contest.

LSU also held Smart out of the Vandy game out of what the school described as “an abundance of caution.”

Smart’s name was mentioned by Wade in a wiretapped conversation from 2017 with convicted college basketball middleman Christian Dawkins, which led to the university's decision Friday to suspend Wade indefinitely. According to reports, Wade discussed an offer to Smart in the conversation with Dawkins.


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Benford was named interim coach after Wade’s suspension. Asked on the teleconference if he was ready to continue coaching the Tigers in the SEC tournament, Benford said: “I haven’t been told otherwise. We’re in here today, myself and the other coaches, preparing like we were going into the Vanderbilt game. Preparing to go to the tournament.”

Smart is fourth on team in scoring with 11.5 points per game and third in minutes played with 30.3 per contest.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​