The LSU basketball program has come a long way over the years, going from average to powerhouse in just a few short seasons. Bringing on Will Wade in 2017 and now Kim Mulkeythis year, the culture both have brought to Baton Rouge has changed the landscape of LSU basketball.
For Wade, his elite level of recruiting is what has put this program back on the map after years of coming up short. Landing five-stars consistently, Wade understands in order to compete with the best, you have to sign the best. Signingcoveted recruits in Tremont Waters, Cam Thomas, Efton Reidand many others over the last few years, the work seems to never stop for Wade, hoping to keep this program relevant for years come.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Wade said. “The problem around here is we haven’t been very consistent. There’s been a lot of reasons why we haven’t been very consistent. We’ve been like a rollercoaster… You got to keep giving yourself cracks. The more cracks you get at it, the more times you’re in the top four of the SEC.”
Already looking to the future of this program to remain at this level of play, Wade has secured five-star Julian Philips in the 2022 class and five-star Marvel Allen in the 2023 class. It’s just the beginning. Landing blue chip prospects has become the new norm of LSU basketball.
“We’re built for the long haul to continue to give ourselvescracks to do that,” Wade said. “We’ve been consistent [this season]. We just want to be a model of consistency. And if you’re consistent and you’re at the top of that every year, you’re going to give yourself chances to have a great year.”
Recruiting is one thing for Wade, but getting the most out of his players is another. Led by Tremont Waters in 2018-19, the Tigers reached the Sweet 16 in just Wade’s second year, a feat that had not been done since the 2005 Tigers squad and Wade firmly believes this is what can be achieved routinely for LSU.
It’s about culture for Wade. Consistency. And as long as he’s the head coach of LSU, it’s only a matter of time until this program continues to break down other barriers.
As Coach Wade continues to stack his résumé at LSU, it’s going to take some time until he reaches the status of legendary coach Kim Mulkey. A three-time national champion at Baylor before electing to take her elite coaching style to Baton Rouge, Mulkeychanged this program virtually overnight.
Bringing some transfers with her along the way, Mulkey has put this team in contention to win the SEC instantly. A winner in every facet of the game, this was expected once she accepted the job in Death Valley.
A year ago, this LSU women’s squad won just nine games. Now, Mulkey has elevated them to a top-ten ranking as we reach the midway point of the season. It isn’t a coincidence, it’s the standard of winning that Mulkey simply brings to the table.
Like Wade, Mulkey is as elite a recruiter as college basketball has to offer. Reeling in top talent consistently, it’s no surprise her résumé competes with the best of them. Now looking to translate her success at Baylor to LSU, she’s willing trust the process of starting something new.
“Stay with us now,” Mulkey told LSU Country in November. “Be patient.”
Mulkey’s presence alone takes the attention of anyone in the same room as her. Her fiery demeanor brings out the best in anyone she works with. The expectations she holds for her players and staff is a championship or bust mentality. But the Basketball Hall of Fame inductee is never satisfied, looking to bring a title back to her home state now.
It’s safe to say both Wade and Mulkey are rewriting what LSU basketball is all about. No college basketball program in the country has more combined wins between both the men's and women's program this season with LSU now sitting at 32.
With two intense, passionate coaches leading the charge of this LSU program, it’s only a matter of time until the two bring some hardware back to Baton Rouge.