Remember the summer when new coach Johnny Jones struggled mightily to find big men for LSU?
Seems like a long time ago now.
Jordan Mickey, a 6-foot-8 forward from Arlington, Texas, announced Thursday that he was the third commitment for LSU's 2013 class, all big men. Mickey, the No. 45 player in the ESPN 100, joined junior college transfers John Odoh, a 6-10 shot-blocker, and Deng Deng, a versatile, 6-8 Australian, in the class.
That's huge because of what the Tigers lack heading into the 2012-13 season. Inside, LSU has sophomore Johnny O'Bryant, a powerful 6-9 forward, and a pair of face-up power forwards in senior Eddie Ludwig and junior Jalen Courtney forming a front line with little depth or size. Also in the fold is 7-2 senior Andrew del Piero, a walk-on who earned a scholarship. All four were on the roster last season as Jones, hired in the spring after Trent Johnson left for TCU, struggled to find big men for the 2012 signing class after being hired late in the recruiting season.
Odoh was interested in joining LSU's 2012 class, but could not graduate from his junior college by the end of the summer, making him ineligible to play for the Tigers for the 2012-13 season. The plan for him is to complete his school work at his junior college and join the Tigers for the spring semester as a redshirt.
LSU's 2012 signing class wound up with a haul of rangy guards with 6-6 wings Shavon Coleman (a junior college transfer) and Shane Hammink joining 6-3 shooting guard Malik Morgan (who signed early when Johnson was still the head coach) and 6-3 point guard Corban Collins.
If the 2012 class brought the guards, Jones is hoping to fill the big man need for next year. With both Ludwig and del Piero graduating at the end of this season, LSU had a need for at least three big men, probably four, and the Tigers already seem well on their way to meeting the need.
The Tigers' guard-heavy roster will likely force them to go to a four-out, one-in approach this season, and the 2013 recruiting haul doesn't appear to make the Tigers have to deviate from that plan in the future.
Both Deng and Mickey bring enough versatility to play facing the basket, while Odoh is a true "five" man and O'Bryant is a power forward capable of playing center in the college game, where 6-9 centers aren't uncommon.
Jones, who would have five scholarships to give if LSU does not suffer any premature roster attrition, would certainly like to add one more versatile forward in Baton Rouge product Jarrell Martin, a 6-7 forward ranked No. 13 in the ESPN 100. Another local of interest is undersized but solid 6-5 forward Brian Bridgewater, who recently transferred from Baton Rouge's Episcopal High to hoops powerhouse Baton Rouge Scotlandville High.
Mickey will be LSU's highest-rated recruit since O'Bryant, who was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school and was ranked No. 46 in the ESPN 100.