LSU Arkansas Basketball

LSU coach Will Wade talks to his team as they play Arkansas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

LSU men’s basketball starts official practice with expectations once again high for the 2021 season.

The Tigers were just a possession away from winning the SEC Tournament last season after falling in the championship game to Alabama. From there, LSU would make the NCAA Tournament, falling in the second round to Michigan. Despite these tough losses, the season was considered a relative success; however, expectations for this season surpass those heights.

LSU comes into the 2021 season with almost a whole new roster, returning only one starter and four overall players who played consistent minutes. Despite the key players who left, LSU brings in a very talented class of freshmen and transfers who are expected to pick right up where the last group of players left off.

With the new rule changes granting immediate eligibility to first-time transfers, Head Coach Will Wade made the transfer portal a huge priority during the off-season. Wade brought in three high-profile transfers in Xavier Pinson, Adam Miller and Tari Eason. Miller and Eason come to LSU as sophomores, while Pinson comes in as a senior on the back of three strong seasons at Missouri. Pinson is expected to make the biggest immediate impact, and Wade gave him high praise at his first press conference of the season.

“He’s been a huge surprise,” Wade said. “I knew he was a good basketball player, but just being able to play point guard, pass and see the floor. He’s going to be really good for us.”

Adam Miller is another guard who many have high expectations for. Miller comes to LSU from Illinois, where he started all 31 games and averaged 8.3 points per game as a freshman. Miller’s biggest strength is his ability to shoot the ball, having led all Big Ten freshmen in three pointers made with 52. He’ll be asked to be more of a playmaker in LSU’s offense, which is an area Wade believes he has shown improvement in since arriving at LSU.

“He’s developing into a good playmaker,” Wade said. “He’s somebody that can make shots and score at a high level.”

Tari Eason was the third transfer Wade brought in this past offseason, and despite not getting as much press as Pinson and Miller, fans should expect him to make an impact this season. Eason joins the Tigers from Cincinnati where he averaged 7.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game during his freshman season, earning him All-AAC Freshman team honors. He likely won’t start right away for the Tigers, but he’s a player who will impact games with his defense and ability to finish inside.

Aside from just the transfers, LSU also brings in a relatively large class of freshmen going into the season. The class was ranked sixth-best in the country by 247 Sports and is highlighted by five-star center Efton Reid out of IMG Academy. Reid is an extremely versatile player, who can play very well on the perimeter along with using his massive size and length to dominate in the paint. Wade raved about his ability on offense and expects him to make a massive impact in that area.

“Efton Reid is extremely skilled,” Wade said. “He plays like a European-style big, he has the jump hooks, he can make three’s, he has a lot of offensive weapons.”

Justice Williams, Brandon Murray, Jerrell Colbert and Bradley Ezewiro round out a talented class that fans can expect to bring some excitement this season. Alex Fudge is another name for fans to watch out for as a freshman in 2021. Fudge joined the team in the second half of the 2020-2021 season after graduating early from high school. Fudge stands at 6-foot, 8-inches and brings freakish athleticism to go along with scoring ability at all levels.

“He makes plays that only he can make,” Wade said.

Despite the overhaul of the roster, LSU will without a doubt put an extremely talented group of players on the floor this season. Although it is rather pointless to make predictions after just the first week of practice, this team gives fans every reason to believe that another deep run in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments is a realistic expectation.

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