Projecting LSU women's basketball starting lineup, rotation
On many counts, LSU women's basketball exceeded expectation last season under direction of new coach Kim Mulkey by winning 26 games and getting to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
But most of that experience is gone and only one starter returns for the Tigers. Mulkey and her staff put the full-court press on the transfer portal to bring in key players at positions of great need all the while signing one of the top incoming freshman classes for a total of nine newcomers
For the first time since 2013, LSU opens the season ranked in the AP Poll coming in at No. 16. The task for Mulkey is putting it all together, finding that best combination of five on the floor.
The 2022-23 journey gets its unofficial start with an exhibition game against Mississippi College on Thursday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center before the season tips off against Bellarmine on Nov. 7 (7 p.m., SEC Network+).
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Here are our projections for what the starting lineup and rotation might look like for the Tigers:
Alexis Morris (5-foot-6), senior: The lone starter from last season, Morris has asked Mulkey about running point guard her final season. She certainly capable of orchestrating the offense and will likely start out handling the ball for the Tigers. Morris is as much of a scorer – averaged 15 points last season – as a facilitator and when the Tigers go with a smaller lineup, she should play plenty of wing.
Flau’jae Johnson (5-10), freshman: Some freshmen come in and electrify a team. Johnson is exactly that type of player. She can make the case for being the most confident player on LSU’s roster. Johnson was a McDonald’s All-American, ranked No. 26 and the sixth-best guard in the 2022 class. The Savannah, Georgia, native, who also has a budding rap career, is a multi-skilled guard who can shoot 3-pointers but also drive and draw contact. She should be an immediate impact player for Mulkey.
Last-Tear Poa (5-11), sophomore: The Australian native arguably might be the most prolific scorer on the Tigers’ roster. Poa played at Northwest Florida State College last season and was the best junior college player in the country, putting up 23 points while shooting 45%. Poa also shot 43.5% from 3-point range down the stretch. Her length adds a dimension both offensively and defensively for LSU.
Senior Ryann Payne in most games will likely be the first guard off the bench as she is one of the truer point guards on the team. West Virginia transfer Jasmine Carson should also log heavy minutes as she has loads of high-level basketball experience.
Angel Reese (6-3), sophomore: Reese is a National Player of the Year caliber performer. Last year for Maryland, she gave South Carolina senior forward Aliyah Boston, the reigning National Player of the Year, all she could handle in the team’s regular season game in December. Reese is relentless on the boards and already assumed a leadership role for LSU. She’ll be counted on for big-time plays in big-time moments and she won’t shy away from that role.
LaDazhia Williams (6-4), senior: LSU is her third stop in the SEC, signing with South Carolina out of high school before spending the last three years at Missouri. Williams looks comfortable with the Tigers and has stood out during preseason practice. She’s in a more of a complementary role opposite Reese on the block but that doesn’t cut into Williams’ knack for finishing at or near the rim. The freer looks she’ll likely get should play more into her game and she’ll have the chance to flourish.
Another name that’s been sounding off a lot during practice has been freshman Sa’Myah Smith. The 6-2 post player is raw but can be a playmaker at times. Smith, No. 57 in the 2022 class, will likely be the first big off the bench. Senior Emily Ward has been in the program longer than anyone. With depth being a major issue at the forward positions, Ward will be asked to do more for the Tigers this season.
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.