In what's been an offseason of retooling for the men's basketball program, the Tigers are expected to be among the many teams competing for an SEC Championship come winter.
LSU has added weapons all over the floor through both the high school recruiting trail and via the transfer portal. But Will Wade and his group are not getting much in terms of offseason hype. On Tuesday, ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi released his updated projections of what the 64 team 2022 bracket will look like, pegging the Tigers as a No. 10 seed in the tournament.
These rankings don't mean much outside of what the national experts think of the incoming talent that LSU has procurred over the last several months. The Tigers are rarely found in any preseason top 25 rankings either, mainly because of the roster turnover that's occurred.
But the 2021-22 roster has a chance to far surpass the expectations many have for the program next season.
Transfers Adam Miller, Tari Eason and Xavier Pinson headline an experienced group with winning experience. Pinson played in the SEC and can get to the basket with ease off the dribble. The program views Miller, an Illinois transfer, as a potential star as he's a three level scorer who will be needed to fill the void left behind by Cam Thomas.
But the most impressive in early workouts according to Wade has been the Cincinnati transfer Eason, who has the potential to be a defensive difference maker for the program and is far more skilled offensively than Wade initially envisioned.
"We hit on him," Wade said on the Jordy Culotta Show. "He is a pitbull, he's got everything you want. An extremely hard worker and plays like every possession is the end of the world. He and Adam Miller have unbelievable positive energy to them. I knew he was really good but he's probably three times as good as I thought he was."
Of course the freshman class is headlined by center Efton Reid, a top 25 player who the Tigers signed late in the process but figures to also be that game changing big the program has been missing the last few seasons. Freshman guard Brandon Murray has also looked the part of a key rotational piece but don't count the returning group of players either.
Wade talked about how impressed he's been with Eric Gaines, Mwani Wilkinson and Shareef O'Neal now that he's healthy. O'Neal has the chance to be a floor spacing big for the Tigers next season, with Wade comparing his game to that of Aaron Epps with the way he's looked in the early going of workouts.
LSU's former players Darius Days and Javonte Smart were both invited to the G-League camp prior to the NBA Draft while Thomas and Trendon Watford were invited to the NBA Combine. Days' situation is one that will continued to be monitored as he's the only one of the four who didn't hire an agent, leaving the possibility of returning for a senior season open.
If the Tigers could lure Days back for another season, that would significantly upgrade the roster in a few key areas like three point shooting and rebounding.This is a team that will likely fly under the radar because of all the pieces it had to replace and the unknown factor that comes with adding so many pieces through the transfer portal.