Gerry DiNardo was hired as LSU head football coach on Dec. 12, 1994.
Immediately following his introductory press conference, DiNardo left Baton Rouge for Carencro High School just outside of Lafayette (La.). DiNardo wasted no time in his recruitment of highly-regarded quarterback Kevin Faulk.
Two months later, DiNardo’s hard work http://www.officialn...ey-c-9_100.html paid off as Faulk signed with the Tigers. With Faulk as the leader, LSU ended a string of six straight losing seasons. The Tigers went to three consecutive bowl games before things began to sour under DiNardo. Faulk is still LSU’s career rushing leader.
Let’s flash forward to the present
Will Wade is taking over a Tigers basketball program which tied for last place in the Southeastern Conference last season. LSU basketball has not experienced six straight losing seasons like the football program DiNardo inherited.
However, the Tigers have made just two NCAA tournament appearances in the last 11 years. LSU’s basketball program is far from being a factor on the national stage.
Wade has his own Kevin Faulk in the neighborhood. Just a few miles from the PMAC is Scotlandville High School, which is home to Javonte Smart. The 6-foot-4 Smart is rated the No. 11 player in the country among next year’s seniors.
DiNardo understood the importance of securing Faulk some 22 years ago. The same scenario exists for Wade, who could bring a gigantic boost to the LSU basketball fan base by signing Smart.
It will be no easy task for Wade to get Smart to stay at home. However, the Tigers are in the running. Earlier this week, Smart announced his final six schools. LSU was in the group along with Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA are college basketball bluebloods. Wade must be ready to recruit, or rather out-recruit, these big boys of college hoops. Those three schools will still make NCAA tournament trips without Smart. But, Wade needs Smart to show Tigers fans he can compete with the perennial powers.
Smart is a rare Louisiana talent. Since Rivals.com http://www.officialp...sey-c-9_92.html began rating high school basketball players in 2003, there have been just six other Louisiana natives ranked in the nation’s top 20.
It must be pointed out that LSU signed four of those six players – Baton Rouge Capitol’s Brandon Bass in 2003, Baton Rouge University’s Glen Davis in 2004, Denham Springs’ Tasmin Mitchell in 2005 and Baton Rouge Madison Prep’s Jarell Martin in 2013.
All four players enjoyed both individual and team success at LSU. All four were All-SEC players with Bass and Davis being the league’s Player of the Year. All four were on teams who reached the NCAA tournament. Davis and Mitchell were on teams which won SEC titles and reached the Final Four.
So, there is evidence that big-time players can make their mark at LSU. Wade must sell that fact to Smart during the recruiting process over the next few months. He can point to Mitchell, who has joined his staff as Director of Player Development.
Smart indicated that no school is David Andrews Youth Jersey in the lead. He has not decided whether he will sign in November or wait until April. The two-time Louisiana Mr. Basketball will first reduce that list of six schools before taking official visits in the fall.
Wade has already spent much time watching Smart participate in AAU tournaments this spring. Wade, who is doing a very good job at improving the roster for the upcoming season, must put a main focus on getting Smart to join his rebuilding project with the Tigers.
Here are the top-50 high school basketball players from Louisiana from 2003-2018.
Brandon Bass, 6-8, No. 11 in 2003
Baton Rouge Capitol High School – signed with LSU
LSU statistics: 59 games, 34 minutes. 15.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 54% FG shooting
Glen Davis, 6-8, No. 13 in 2004
Baton Rouge University High School – signed with LSU
LSU statistics: 95 games, 32 minutes, 16.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 50% FG shooting
Tasmin Mitchell, 6-7, No. 20 in 2005
Denham Springs High School – signed with LSU
LSU statistics: 137 games, 37 minutes, 14.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 47% FG shooting
LaceDarius Dunn, 6-4, No. 46 in 2007
Monroe Excelsior Christian High School – signed with Baylor
Baylor statistics: 134 games, 34 minutes, 17.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 44% FG shooting
Greg Monroe, 6-10, No. 8 in 2008
Harvey Cox High School – signed with Georgetown
Georgetown statistics: 65 games, 34 minutes, 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 54% FG shooting
Ricardo Gathers, 6-6, No. 37 in 2012
Reserve Riverside High School – signed with Baylor
Baylor statistics: 141 games, 22 minutes, 8.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 49% FG shooting
Jarell Martin, 6-9, No. 13 in 2013
Baton Rouge Madison Prep High School – signed with LSU
LSU statistics: 65 games, 31 minutes, 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 49% FG shooting
Brandon Sampson, 6-4, No. 42 in 2015
Baton Rouge Madison Prep High School – signed with LSU
LSU statistics: 58 games, 21 minutes, 8.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, 43% FG shooting
DeJon Jarreau, 6-5, No. 38 in 2016
New Orleans McDonogh 35 High School – signed Sam Koch Womens Jersey with Massachusetts (transferring to another school)
Massachusetts statistics: 18 games, 24 minutes, 9.1 points, 4.7 assists, 40% FG shooting
Mitchell Robinson, 7-0, No. 8 in 2017
Chalmette High School – signed with Western Kentucky
Javonte Smart, 6-4, No. 11 in 2018
Scotlandville High School – final six schools: Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Oklahoma State, UCLA