LSU coach Will Wade had high praise for freshman guard James Bishop and other newcomers during his time on the Southeastern Conference Teleconference Thursday morning.
With the departure of starting point guard Tremont Waters to the NBA, Bishop will be counted on to help fill Waters' role early on along with sophomore Javonte Smart. While neither offer the same ability to create for others like Waters, both can be effective scorers with the left-handed Bishop likely coming in off the bench.
"We're happy to have five of top eight guys back, so we'll have a little bit more of a veteran core that's returned," Wade said. "I'm very impressed with our young guys. We've got a blue collar, hard-working group with our new guys."
Two other players brought in besides Bishop were five-star forward Trendon Watford and junior college transfer Charles Manning. Watford is expected to be a key piece in replacing Kavell Bigby-Williams and Naz Reid down low.
The freshman was the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the state of Alabama, and Wade said Watford has been working on being more consistent with his jump shot through the summer.
As for Manning, a player similar to senior wing Marlon Taylor, Wade stressed his defensive and shooting ability. The third-year coach felt the staff hit on all three players and each are ready to contribute right away, but he was most complimentary of Bishop.
"Bishop is as hard of a worker as I've ever seen as a freshman," Wade said. "You guys all know how much I rave about Skylar Mays, and James has worked as hard, if not harder, than Skylar this summer. It's incredible to watch."
He'll get to watch all three guys in live action when the team travels to Spain in August to play a preseason tournament. It will be Wade's first time back on the court as LSU's head coach since his suspension before the team's regular season finale against Vanderbilt.
LSU last went overseas in 2015 under Johnny Jones. The team played multiple games in Australia, the home country of Ben Simmons, who led the team to a 19-14 record that season before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
"It's really expedited things because we are a little bit ahead when we started the season," Wade said. "Hopefully we will be able to capitalize on all those advantages during our trip to Spain this summer."