Key Losses: F Brandon Bass (17.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg), G Antonio Hudson (13.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Ross Neltner (2.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Lost to UAB 82–68 in the first round
Phoenix, AZ/St. Mary’s
Baton Rouge, LA/San Jacinto (TX) CC
Washington, DC/Laurinburg (NC) Prep
Denham Springs, LA/Denham Springs
Freeport, Bahamas/Laurinburg (NC) Prep
Baton Rouge, LA/Redshirt 2004-05
Baton Rouge, LA/Redshirt 2004-05
Mitchell was one of the most sought-after prep players in the country last year. He should slide right into the starting lineup. Gransberry, a junior college transfer, also has an opportunity to start immediately. He is an outstanding rebounder. The backcourt will receive a boost from Voogd, a point guard who will be asked to play while starter Tack Minor serves an early-season suspension. Temple, who can play all three positions on the perimeter, redshirted last season.
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LSU coach John Brady lost SEC Player of the Year Brandon Bass to the NBA Draft last June. Virtually everyone told Bass that he would not be selected in the first round, that he should wait one more season before making the jump. Bass left school anyway and was picked by New Orleans in the second round.
Brady had lost another one. Bass joined star big man Stromile Swift, another former SEC Player of the Year, who bolted Baton Rouge after just two seasons. And there was Kedrick Brown, who signed with LSU out of junior college but jumped straight to the NBA, where he was selected in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
Brady has the players this time around, though, to absorb such a loss. With Glen "Big Baby" Davis manning the low block and underrated senior guard Darrel Mitchell doing his thing on the perimeter, LSU should remain one of the elite teams in the SEC.
Bass is gone, but Brady and recruiting ace Butch Pierre will unleash another talented young forward on the SEC.
Tasmin Mitchell, a Parade All-American from Denham Springs High School just outside of Baton Rouge, was the prize catch of the Tigers' signing class. If Mitchell lives up to the hype, he could give LSU its third straight SEC Freshman of the Year. Bass won the award in 2004 and was followed by Davis, another Baton Rouge native, in 2005.
The 6-7 Mitchell, who averaged 27 points and 10 rebounds as a senior, was considered by most recruiting analysts to be among the top three small forwards in the nation. "He can shoot from the perimeter and score off the post," Brady says. "He's a very flexible player, and he's a great leader."
Mitchell will join Davis in what should be one of the SEC's best frontlines. The 6-9, 310-pound Davis emerged as a force during LSU's run to the SEC West title. He averaged 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds during league play while shooting 55.1 percent from the floor.
Ross Neltner, the only other big man to average more than 10 minutes per game, transferred to Vanderbilt. Brady, however, isn't concerned. In addition to Mitchell, LSU is bringing in several other forwards who should be ready to play right away.
Magnum Rolle, who comes to LSU from the Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute via the Bahamas, was listed among the top power forwards out of high school, but he can play small forward as well.
"He has the makings of a Stromile Swift," Brady says. "He is not as strong, but he is the same type of athlete."
Kentrell Gransberry, a transfer from San Jacinto Junior College, will likely add muscle to the frontline. There is also 6-11, 185-pound Chris Johnson, Rolle's teammate at Laurinburg, who will also get a shot at small forward.
"He's a really good shooter from the perimeter," Brady says. "We're long. We're athletic. We've got some strength and power down low. We'll be able to run and be exciting."
While watching Mitchell play in a Las Vegas tournament last year, Brady and Pierre spotted 6-1 point guard Ben Voogd of Florence, Ore., and convinced him to come to Baton Rouge. With returning point guard Tack Minor suspended from early-season games for violating the code of student conduct, Voogd will compete for the starting job right away.
Minor finished fourth in the SEC with 4.6 assists per game and averaged 10.8 points, but he struggled mightily in the Tigers' first-round loss to UAB in the NCAA Tournament. Minor and Mitchell are quick and can score, but both are under six feet tall. Their lack of size hurt against the UAB press.
Help is on the way, however, as LSU signed 6-5 guard Alex Farrer from Phoenix, Ariz.
In addition, Garrett Temple, who redshirted last season, can play both guard slots.
Over the last five seasons, Brady has steadily improved LSU's SEC record, from 2-14 to 6-10 to 8-8 twice to 12-4 last season. Recruiting has gotten better as well, thanks in part to a nice run of local talent, most notably Bass, Davis and Mitchell.
The '05-06 Tigers won't be the deepest team in the league, but they are talented enough - even without Bass - to compete for the SEC West title once again.