Mickey’s NBA decision may come ‘later this week,’ father says

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU's Jordan Mickey shoots over Arkansas' Moses Kingsley during the game between LSU and Arkansas this season at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD — LSU’s Jordan Mickey dunks over Arkansas’ Moses Kingsley during the game between LSU and Arkansas this season at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge.

Six days are left until the NBA’s deadline to declare for the draft, and Jordan Mickey will probably use as many of them as he can.

Or at least that’s the plan laid out by the LSU forward’s father.

“We’ll probably make a decision by the end of the week,” James Wright told The Advocate early Monday evening in a phone interview.

As I wrote last week, Mickey’s decision is pretty simple: If he elects to put his name into the pool of underclassmen declaring for the draft, there’s no turning back. The NCAA’s deadline to “withdraw” from the draft came and went on April 15, meaning any declarations made afterward cut off the path of returning to school.

Wright and his son have tried to keep a tight lid on speculation surrounding his decision. On April 9, Wright was in town to watch his older son and Mickey’s step-brother in James Wright Jr., who is a former LSU wide receiver, audition before NFL scouts at the Tigers’ Pro Day. Yet, there was no sit-down with LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones, either. Mickey has already had his planned postseason session with Jones, and then took a trip for spring break, Wright said.

Any communications between Wright and Jones have been handled over the phone.

“I’ve spoke with him several times,” Wright said. “I just told Coach Jones that we’re trying to get the best information and take the best approach for our family.”

Yet Wright also said he plans to take a trip to Baton Rouge “around the middle, to later this week” for a face-to-face chat Jones. After that meeting, a decision about Mickey’s future in Baton Rouge may be handed down.

Mickey’s choice is a linchpin in some ways.

With Johnny O’Bryant III off to the professional ranks, Mickey’s 12.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game — numbers that landed him on the SEC’s All-Freshmen team — represent the most consistent wellspring of production inside. Even if Mickey wasn’t the chief threat — it’s been repeated that no designed plays were run for him — he is still the logical choice to take up the mantle.  Put another way, LSU’s depth in the lane would swing back to the other end of the pendulum.  Fellow freshman Jarell Martin has said he’ll return, and all indications are there are no surprises in store. Yet, Martin’s size, standing 6-9, 241 pounds, is coupled with athleticism that lets him play on the wing. If Mickey departs, Martin may have to move inside, and incoming freshman Elbert Robinson, will face pressure to acclimate quickly.

Also, if Mickey stays, it will leave LSU one over the NCAA-mandated allotment of 13 scholarships, meaning the Tigers would potentially having to shave shed one member  from their ranks. If he goes, then the Tigers roster, in theory, would not have to undergone further alterations. Or, at the very least, any changes may not solely come down to a decision by Jones.

Mickey slid out of ESPN analyst Chad Ford’s ranking of the top 100 prospects after sitting at No. 80. DraftExpress.com, however, has the 6-8, 220-pound Mickey slotted at No. 55 in its ratings, and only seven spots behind O’Bryant. He’s also moved up three spots to No. 14 in the site’s ranking of freshmen. Neither site has him projected to be selected in the draft’s two rounds.

So to repeat: The wait will continue a couple more days.

“We really have tried to downplay all of this,” Wright said. “It’s not like we’re trying to do this to generate extra attention. Right now, it’s just one of those things where we want to make sure we do everything in the best interest of our family.”