Sidelines with John Clay

Will Wade is still around, and LSU will be back in SEC title hunt

LSU coach says his team hung tough for win at UK

LSU basketball coach Will Wade talks to the media after his team’s 73-71 win over Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, at Rupp Arena. The Tigers rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to go 10-1 in SEC play.
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LSU basketball coach Will Wade talks to the media after his team’s 73-71 win over Kentucky on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, at Rupp Arena. The Tigers rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to go 10-1 in SEC play.

At the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin on Tuesday, embattled LSU basketball coach Will Wade met the media for the first time since early March and it was awkward. And he probably didn’t care.

That’s because almost everything has been coming up roses of late for Wade, especially in the player personnel department. Just this week, several key Tigers announced they were pulling their names from the June 20 NBA Draft so they could return to Baton Rouge for another year of college basketball.

[There’s a new No. 1 in college basketball recruiting]

One was senior guard Skylar Mays, who averaged 13.4 points per game last season for the SEC regular-season champs. Another was Javonte Smart, the sophomore guard who averaged 11.1 points per game. Another was Marlon Taylor, the outrageously athletic sophomore guard. And just Tuesday word came that sophomore forward Emmitt Williams, who averaged 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman, is returning as well.

Combined that core four with incoming freshman Trendon Watford, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Birmingham, Ala., anked No. 19 by 247Sports for the class of 2019, and the Tigers should be right in the hunt for another conference crown, even with he departures of Tremont Waters and Naz Reid.

Most believed that by now Wade would have departed also, given the FBI wiretap that caught the coach discussing a “strong-ass” offer for Smart during the Louisiana prep product’s recruitment. The coach was suspended when he refused to meet with school officials, then re-instated on April 14 when he finally sat down with representatives from both LSU and the NCAA.

Facing questions from the media for the first time in nearly three months, Wade was non-committal and evasive in his answers. He basically said he couldn’t say.

“Eventually, as we move forward from this, I want to get to a point where we have full disclosure,” he said. “We’re not at that point right now.”

Check out the column from Yahoo’s Pat Forde, who was among those questioning Wade in Destin. He has some info on Wade’s use of his school-issued phone as compared to his personal phone.

Ron Higgins of Tiger Details writes about the Wade press conference as well as the wild card in the equation, new LSU athletic director Scott Woodward. A Baton Rouge native, Woodward came to LSU from Texas A&M.

[Shooting, dribbling, tweeting part of NBA evaluations]

“I’ve had good meetings with Scott, but I don’t know Scott,” Wade said. “So it’s a trust-building process with Scott, and that comes with action. Trust is following through with what you say you’re going to do. It’s going to take time.”

Meanwhile, I tend to agree with Joseph Goodman of AL.com, who wrote Tuesday that “Will Wade and LSU are laughing all the way to the bank.”



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