BASKETBALL

The future is looking bright for LSU basketball

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
LSU's Johnny O'Bryant III. Photo courtesy of lsureveille.com

There hasn't been a lot to get excited about in the way of LSU men's basketball for the last few years.

That changed recently with All-SEC forward Johnny O'Bryant III announcing that he will be returning to Baton Rouge for his junior year.

O'Bryant was a first-team All-SEC selection from this past season and was second in the conference in double-doubles with 15. He finished the year averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game.

Twelve of his 15 double-doubles came against SEC opponents, and he had a string of five straight at one point this year--making him the first Tiger to do so since Glen "Big Baby" Davis in 2005.

O'Bryant helped LSU rebound from an 0-4 start in the SEC to finish 9-9 for the year and 19-12 overall in Johnny Jones' first year as the Tigers' head coach.

From a team that nearly won 20 games, eight players return next year besides O'Bryant.

All-SEC defensive player Anthony Hickey will return to run the point, and dangerous outside shooter Andre Stringer returns along with key players in Shavon Coleman and Malik Morgan.

However, most eyes will be on incoming freshman Jarell Martin. The McDonald's All-American from Madison Prep is a 6-foot-9 phenom with a ton of talent and athleticism.

In the McDonald's All-American game last month, Martin scored 10 points against the nation's best. He looks to be ready to make an immediate impact for the Tigers next season.

Being paired with O'Bryant down low, LSU should instantly become one of the most formidable front-courts in the SEC.

On the strength of picking up the five-star recruit, the Tigers' 2013 recruiting class has been ranked sixth nationally by Rivals.com.

Along with the No. 12 prospect in Martin, LSU will bring in the No. 41 prospect in power forward Jordan Mickey and the No. 66 prospect in point guard Tim Quarterman.

To join those true freshmen, two three-star junior college transfers in John Odoh and Deng Deng will be joining the Tigers this season.

If these highly-touted players pan out and if they can mesh well with the eight players LSU already has returning, the Tigers just may be on their way to a resurgence.