If one had to pick a most glaring weakness for LSU in its recently completed 18-15 men's basketball season, it might be either backcourt size - it's safe to say Andre Stringer was the only 5-foot-9 shooting guard in the SEC - or overall athleticism.
If LSU is able to sign Louisiana native Shavon Coleman in next month's late signing period, the Tigers will able to address both issues.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore from Howard College in Big Springs, Texas, via Thibodaux, La. High School, has both the size and run-and-jump athleticism the Tigers lacked in a season that ended with a trip to the NIT.
"He's a long, versatile player," said Tony Clark, his high school coach at Thibodaux. " He can defend three (perimeter) positions and he can probably defend some posts, too.
"And for a player with that type of talent, he's a hard-worker. Usually the best player isn't the hardest worker, but he is."
Coleman, who said his strength on offense is "putting the ball on the floor and getting to the free throw line," was a 46 percent shooter and a respectable 38 percent 3-point shooter as a sophomore.
There's a better-than-average chance LSU might attract the many talents of Coleman, an all-Western Junior College Athletic Conference performer this season. Coleman, who averaged 14.5 points and 6.4 rebounds playing in the nation's strongest junior college league (it has put a team in the national championship game five straight seasons, winning three), rated an official visit he took to LSU over the weekend as a "10."
He said he was impressed with head coach Trent Johnson and his staff - "Those are really good coaches," he said - and added that it was his "dream" to come to LSU growing up in Louisiana.
It may have happened earlier, but Coleman, who was rated among the nation's top 150 players by some recruiting services in high school, did not have high school transcripts that met the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements. He was recruited by LSU and others coming out of high school, but when grades became an issue, many major programs backed off, leaving Coleman to sign with Louisiana-Monroe. He eventually enrolled at Howard.
Now, the big-name schools are back in the picture. Although he likes the idea of playing for LSU - he has visions of playing small forward, allowing Ralston Turner to slide to shooting guard and giving LSU a pair of long 6-6 wings - he has other suitors in the picture.
After visiting LSU last weekend, he'll visit Oklahoma this weekend, then Utah State. His junior college coach, Mark Adams, said he's also entertaining interest from Texas Tech and Illinois State.
He said whoever gets Coleman will get a "tough kid,"
"He's a character kid, very coachable," Adams said. "You'll never have to worry about what he's doing off the floor. He's a coach's dream.
"And for him to be all-conference in our league, that says a lot."