LSU Basketball to Start Workouts in “Small Groups” on July 20, Coach Will Wade Says

Glen West

LSU basketball is meticulously beginning its road to a return on the hard wood over the next few weeks. Coach Will Wade told LSUCountry on Saturday that the Tigers are ramping up preparations to bring back their players for workouts starting July 20. 

This latest news comes on the heels of the NCAA Division I Council approving its plan for summer athletic activities for men's and women's basketball.

"Beginning July 20, required summer athletics activities may begin and can last up to eight weeks or until the school’s first day of classes or Sept. 15, whichever is earlier. Virtual and in-person activities cannot exceed a combined eight hours per week," the NCAA released in a statement on June 17. 

Wade says instead of bringing the entire team back at once, the program is being extra cautious with its players, deciding to bring them back in groups over the next few weeks. With COVID-19 cases starting to spike across the country, the LSU staff wants to be smart about the environment it's bringing the players back into.

Upon return and initial testing, the players will start workouts in "small groups" according to Wade, including individual workouts in the gym with a ball. Only one player will be allowed in the gym for those workouts.

As is the case with football, only strength and conditioning coach Greg Goldin will be allowed to have in-person contact with the players in the weight room. When LSUCountry spoke with Wade in May about the return of basketball activities, Wade said they'd study and learn how effective football's plan was in its return this month.

"To get them back and going is the main thing. I think some of it will be based on how smoothly does it go with football? What does that process look like with them?" Wade said. "Then men's and women's basketball, winter sports that require summer athletic activity, we'd be next in line."

The plan hasn't changed much since May according to Wade. Before athletes ultimately return to campus, a series of phone calls to players and their families will be placed. Making sure the protocols are carefully planned out and there is mutual understanding about the health and safety protocols for the players is the most important hurdle to overcome.

Upon arrival, Wade said a comprehensive physical process, one that usually takes a day, would likely take multiple days. 

LSU welcomes a practically brand new team to the fold in 2020, headlined by guard Cam Thomas and fellow freshmen Mwani Wilkerson, Eric Gaines, Jalen Cook and Bradley Ezewiro. Transfers Shareef O'Neal and Josh Leblanc also figure to play a big role in the Tigers' success.

Decisions from prominent underclassmen Javonte Smart, Darius Days and Trendon Watford are still unknown as all have entered the 2020 NBA draft but kept their eligibility open. The sooner the players can get to campus and start building that chemistry the better, especially for such a young team that hasn't yet played together.

With expectations sky high in 2020, returning for workouts is the first step for what could be a special season for the Tigers on the hard wood.