What the addition of Efton Reid, Adam Miller, Xavier Pinson mean for LSU basketball
LSU basketball coach Will Wade is adapting well to the wild west that is college basketball recruiting now more than ever with free and easy NCAA transfer rules because of COVID-19.
And hopefully, for his sake and that of LSU, he is adhering to NCAA recruiting rules better than he apparently did earlier in career at LSU, which remains under investigation by the NCAA.
At any rate, Wade is a fast worker. On Sunday, Wade added his fourth new player since the 2020-21 season ended as Efton Reid, the No. 3-ranked prep center in the nation by 247Sports signed with the Tigers out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Reid, who is 6-foot-11 and 225 pounds, is a five-star prospect and the No. 24 overall player by 247Sports.
As good as LSU was at times last season in reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finishing 19-10and third the SEC, it did not have a true center. Reid could be that.
He is likely the third starter for the 2021-22 season Wade has acquired in under two months.
The other two are point guard Xavier Pinson, a junior transfer from Missouri, and guard Adam Miller, a freshman transfer from Illinois. Combined, they started 57 games last season. Pinson averaged 13.6 points in 26.5 minutes with 2.9 assists in 26 starts.
Miller can also play the point, but he was not much of a ball distributor last season with only 25 assists against 33 turnovers. He averaged 8.3 points in 31 starts.
These are three high quality players. Reid chose LSU over Florida State, which reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Miller picked LSU over elite brand Kentucky. Pinson chose LSU over Auburn, which was in the Final Four two years ago.
That trio certainly softens the loss of four starters from last season's team - shooting guard Cameron Thomas, point guard Javonte Smart and forwards Trendon Watford and Darius Days, who left to enter the NBA Draft.
Wade said he expected all four to leave after the Tigers' season ended with an 86-78 loss to No. 1 seed Michigan on March 22 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"We're certainly going to lose some very good players," he said. "We've got some talented young kids in the program that we feel really good about. We're going to try to mix in some veteran guys here in the spring, have two or three scholarships to mess around with and get some talented veteran guys."
He has clearly acquired talented veterans.
Wade also recently added 6-8 freshman forward Tari Eason, who transferred from Cincinnati after averaging 7.3 point and 5.9 rebounds with 29 blocked shots. He was not a regular starter, but he averaged 19 minutes a game.
And he signed junior combination guard Seneca Knight in December after he transferred from San Jose State, where he started 30 games in the 2019-20 season and averaged 17.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. Knight is from Northside High in Lafayette.
Wade apparently has his own waiver wire.
Wade has four freshman signees entering the program in addition to Reid. Jerrell Colbert, the No. 12 center in the nation by 247Sports out of Houston High in Germantown, Tennessee, is 6-9 and will compete with Reid for playing time and could be in the rotation.
The other three are Bradley Ezewiro, the No. 32 center from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, who is 6-8, No. 12 small forward Alex Fudge of Jacksonville, Florida, who is 6-8 and No. 24 shooting guard Brandon Murray of IMG Academy who is 6-5.
Wade had to recruit this fast and this hard. He has only four returning players in freshman guard Eric Gaines, freshman forward Mwani Wilkinson, sophomore forward Shareef O'Neal and junior forward Josh LeBlanc. None averaged more than three points or four rebounds a game in limited playing time.
"We've got to keep the young core together, add a couple veteran pieces, and I think we can be right back where we are tonight," he said after the Michigan game.
Considering the quality of the veteran transfers, though, LSU may be able to go deeper than that in the postseason. And Wade may not be finished adding players.