It’s a work in progress, but this LSU basketball program is trending in the right direction after a productive offseason of developing their roster. Head Coach Matt McMahon addressed the media Monday morning to speak on the growth of his team, injury updates and where things stand as practice begins this week.
It’s a new era for the Tigers and we’ve seen McMahon bring a roster from 0 players to a full squad in the blink of an eye, but staying patient and trusting the process is the main message of his.
Here are a few takeaways from McMahon’s preseason press conference:
Adam Miller Fully Cleared
After transferring from Illinois to LSU last year, Miller suffered a torn ACL in offseason training, holding him out of his first year in Baton Rouge. The expectation for the youngster was that he would carry a major scoring load for this offense, and it still is now that McMahon is at the helm, but it’ll take time for him to get back to full strength.
“Adam [Miller] has been terrific. I love him,” McMahon said. “Obviously a very good player, can really shoot the ball at a high level… He’s a relentless competitor.”
For this program to get Miller to return to Baton Rouge is a massive win for this team. With a roster that virtually cleaned house, it was imperative for the Tigers to get a few familiar faces back and that is precisely what they’ll have with Miller, Justice Williams and Mwani Wilkinson.
Evolution of the Roster
McMahon inherited a program that faced tremendous uncertainty, and it still does, but selling the program was something that was easy for him. The LSU brand speaks for itself and McMahon saw that take shape when hitting the transfer portal with force.
The Tigers reeled in Trae Hannibal from Murray State; Cam Hayes from NC State; Justice Hill from Murray State; Kendal Coleman from Northwestern State; KJ Williams from Murray State and Derek Fountain from Mississippi State.
“I’m excited with where we landed. I know we’ve had all the stories with how we built the roster from 0 to 13. It was fun doing all those," McMahon said. "Now it’s time to get to work. We’ve turned the page from that. Our roster for the 2022-23 season is what it is and I’m excited about turning it into a really good basketball team.”
LSU brought in a 2022 class that is composed of four players who all bring a wide variety of skill sets and McMahon detailed the role each will take on this season. The gems of this class come in the form of Jalen Reed and Tyrell Ward.
Ward, a 6-foot-6 scoring wing, has the chance to take this program to another level this year and McMahon addressed that Monday. His ability to score the ball from all three levels is what makes him such a lethal playmaker for this squad.
“He’s made great progress since the start of the fall semester,” McMahon said of Ward. “6’6 wing who can score it. Athletic. Just wants to be a great player so with that being said he invests a lot of time in it and you start to see the production as he continues on his journey.”
When it comes to Jalen Reed, the 6-foot-10 big man brings the Tigers tremendous versatility on both ends of the floor. Using his length to alter shots defensively and developing his footwork on the other end of the floor, Reed has the chance to be a big piece to what the Tigers do this season.
“He had an unbelievable offseason in the weight room,” McMahon said of Reed. “6’10, 235-pounds and is highly skilled. Like Adam Miller he’s a very smart player. He really has a great understanding of the game. He’s not a 6’10 back to the basket guy. He's today's era forward, skilled on the perimeter.”
Remaining patient with the Tigers will be of the utmost importance and McMahon preached that during Monday’s presser. An offseason of conditioning and gaining continuity, LSU is trending in the right direction and it’ll all start with what they can get in during fall practices.
“We obviously still have a long way to go,” McMahon said. “But I think when you have those core values that we always talk about in hard work, unselfishness and toughness, you’re able to start that process of getting better everyday and developing a team.”