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Where Does LSU Basketball Turn After Injury to Adam Miller?

Wilkinson, Pinson and Murray make for an intriguing combo on the perimeter with Miller out for the year.

LSU basketball had suffered some bumps and bruises in the early weeks of fall practice but coach Will Wade wasn't concerned about long term injuries when last speaking with the media. 

Then a meteoric bombshell was dropped on the program as transfer guard Adam Miller suffered a torn-ACL in practice this week, just days ahead of the Tigers first scrimmage of the season at Nicholls. Miller is now done for the year, a significant hit to the backcourt as his three level scoring, defensive versatility and improved playmaking were set to be key pieces to the Tigers' puzzle.

For a team that came into the 2021-22 season with such depth at virtually every position, all of a sudden the back court is very much in question. From information we've gathered from Wade, Missouri transfer Xavier Pinson, sophomore Eric Gaines and freshmen Brandon Murray and Justice Williams make the most sense as a possible backcourt rotation. 

Pinson is another one of those three level scorers who will have the ball in his hands a lot this season and with Miller going down, will likely be asked to be even more aggressive on the offensive end. Wade said Pinson is one of those players who came in and is better than he even thought, saying he's fit seamlessly into the program.

"Xavier Pinson now, he's better than I thought. He's been a huge surprise," Wade said. "I knew he was a good basketball player, but just being able to play point guard and pass and see the floor, he's as good as I've seen it. Get down the seams, creating rotation and drives. He's going to be really good for us."

He figures to be penciled in as one of the backcourt starters, leaving a lot up in the air as to who could start alongside him. Murray is an interesting name to follow here as Wade and the coaching staff have been really impressed with how fast he's adapted to the speed of the college game.

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A 6-foot-4 guard out of Baltimore, Wade loves the constant energy that Murray brings to this team and there's little doubt he'll be a consistent part of the rotation from game one.

"Our fans are going to love him. He is a pitbull," Wade said. "We're running five on five offense at 7 o'clock in the morning and he's cutting like we're in overtime of the National Championship game. Everything he does, he does it extremely hard and he does it the right way."

Gaines and Williams make sense as off the bench players at least to start the season but one name that can't be overlooked is sophomore Mwani Wilkinson. He's the guy who Wade said has made the biggest jump of any player on the roster this offseason, mostly from an offensive aggressiveness standpoint. 

Last season, Wilkinson was always that player who seemed to be at the right place at the right time and make a smart basketball play. But one area that limited his playing time down the stretch was his lack of assertiveness on offense, mainly because that's not what he was asked to do. 

But Wade has seen a different, more confident player evolve on that end of the court and at 6-foot-5 he feels like a perfect fit next to Pinson in the back court.

"Nobody in our program has made a bigger jump than Mwani Wilkinson; he played for us last year and started a bunch of games for us last year," Wade said. "He’s going to look like a new player especially on the offensive end - when people see him, they’re going to be shocked, he’s had a tremendous offseason."

With more size at the forward position than in past years, Wilkinson won't have to be playing along the baseline as much as he was in 2020-21. There are many options Wade can turn to with Miller going down and it will be hard to replace the Illinois transfer.