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LSU signee Benny Simmons adds USA Today POY award to list of honors

LSU basketball signee Benny Simmons, who is in Chicago preparing for the McDonald’s All-American game to be played Wednesday night, has earned another national honor.

Simmons, a 6-foot-10 forward from Montverde Academy in Clermont, Florida, was named Tuesday as the USA Today Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

The player of the year honor is the fourth for Simmons, who signed with LSU in the early signing period in November after committing to coach Johnny Jones’ program 13 months earlier.

Simmons has already been honored as the Gatorade national player of the year and has won the Naismith Trophy and Wootten Award for high school players.

Simmons, who averaged 28.0 points, 11.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game this year, will play for the East squad in Wednesday night’s McDonald’s game at the United Center. The game, which is set for 8 p.m., will be televised by ESPN.

Simmons will be joined on the East squad by guard Antonio Blakeney, who also plans to be a college teammate of his good friend after committing to LSU on Jan. 2.

They will face a West squad that includes guard Malik Newman, a five-star prospect from Jackson, Mississippi. He lists LSU among the six finalists for his college choice.

Simmons will be the 16th player who has spent at least one season at LSU to play in the McDonald’s All-Star Game.

After the McDonald’s game, Simmons will rejoin his Montverde teammates for the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Tournament in New York.

 Montverde, the two-time defending champion and the No. 2 seed for this year’s event, opens play Thursday with a 3 p.m. quarterfinal matchup against Greensboro Day of North Carolina.

Semifinals will be played Friday and the championship game is on Saturday. All games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.

LSU forward Mickey on Driesell All-American team

LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey has been selected to the Lefty Driesell All-American team that was announced Tuesday morning.

Mickey, who led the nation with 3.64 blocked shots per game, is also a finalist for the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The 2014-15 season marked the second year in a row Mickey has led the SEC in blocked shots. He also topped the conference with 9.9 rebounds per game while averaging 15.4 points in helping LSU  to a 22-11 record and first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009.

Also on the list is former LSU guard Anthony Hickey, who played this season at Oklahoma State, and Louisiana-Lafayette guard Jay Wright.

The Driesell Award is named in honor of coaching legend Lefty Driesell, who is the only person to win at least 100 games at four different Division I schools. He chalked up 348 of his 786 career victories at Maryland.

The 2015 Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year Award will be presented at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on Friday in Indianapolis — site of the Final Four.

2015 LEFTY DRIESELL ALL-AMERICA TEAM

Darion Atkins, Virginia; Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga; Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia; Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky; Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse; Kyle Collinsworth, BYU; Tekele Cotton, Wichita State; Demarcus Daniels North Florida; Nnanna Egwu, Illinois; Jerian Grant, Notre Dame; Jelani Hewitt, Georgia Southern; Anthony Hickey, Oklahoma State; Brice Johnson, North Carolina.

Reggie Lynch, Illinois State; T.J. McConnell, Arizona; Jordan Mickey, LSU; Shonn Miller, Cornell; Larry Nance, Wyoming; Josh Richardson, Tennessee; Richard Ross, Old Dominion; Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky; Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga; Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky; Julian Washburn, UTEP; Briante Weber, Virginia Commonwealth; Jay Wright, Louisiana-Lafayette.

LSU forward Martin gets honorable mention on AP All-American squad

LSU forward Jarell Martin was named an honorable mention pick on The Associated Press’ All-American team announced Monday afternoon.

Martin, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Madison Prep in Baton Rouge, led the Tigers in scoring at 16.9 points per game and ranked second with 9.2 rebounds per game. He ranked third in the Southeastern Conference in both categories.

Last Wednesday, Martin, a first-team All-SEC pick by the league’s coaches and media, announced he would give up his final two years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.

Martin wasn’t the only player with Louisiana ties to earn All-American honorable mention status. Baylor forward Rico Gathers, a La Place native and former Riverside Academy star, also made it along with Louisiana Tech guard Kenneth “Speedy” Smith.

Last week, Martin was chosen as a second-team All-District 21 pick by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, while teammate Jordan Mickey was a first-team choice.

LSU forward Mickey ‘leaning toward draft,’ ESPN.com reports

Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweeted that LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey is leaning, perhaps double-leaning, toward the NBA draft.

Goodman tweeted: “LSU sophomore big man Jordan Mickey is leaning towards leaning for the NBA Draft, sources told ESPN.”

A tearful Mickey said after LSU’s 66-65 loss to North Carolina State in the second round of the NCAA tournament Thursday night that he would talk with his family and consult with LSU coach Johnny Jones before making any decision on his future.

Mickey, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the coaches and The Associated Press, led the league in rebounding with 9.9 per game and topped the nation with 3.6 blocked shots per game.

He also ranked second in the conference in scoring this season with 15.4 points per game while connecting on 50.4 percent of his field-goal attempts.

“I don’t have a time frame on that right now,” Mickey said of the draft after the N.C. State loss, nearly echoing comments made by fellow sophomore forward Jarell Martin. “Whenever I decide to think about it, that’s something I’ll talk about with the coaching staff and my family and make the best decision I can.”

Mickey is ranked by CBSSports.com as the 57th overall prospect.

In a couple of mock drafts, both he and Martin are projected as early second-round picks.

NBADraft.net has Mickey going with the second pick of the second round, 32nd overall, to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Martin going on the next pick to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com has Martin going 35th to Philadelphia and Mickey being chosen with the 38th pick to the Utah Jazz.

Opening Tip: LSU vs. North Carolina State

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: No. 9 seed LSU (22-10) vs. No. 8 seed North Carolina State (20-13)
  • When: 8:20 p.m. Thursday (approximately)
  • Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • All-time series: First meeting
  • TV: TBS
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: The LSU-North Carolina State winners will meet the Lafayette-Villanova winner in the third round on Saturday, time to be announced

Starting Five

  • BACK IN THE DANCE: LSU is appearing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009 and 21st time in program history. The Tigers have a 24-23 all-time record. In their last appearance in 2009, LSU defeated Butler (75-71) before being eliminated by North Carolina (84-70).
  • FOR OPENERS: LSU is 11-9 in its first game in the tournament with two victories in a row. The Tigers beat Iona 80-64 in 2006 to begin its run to the Final Four and defeated Butler 75-71 in 2009. LSU’s last loss in its first NCAA tournament game was in 2005 against UAB (82-68).
  • TOURNAMENT SUCCESS: Over the years, LSU has advanced to four Final Fours, six Elite Eights and nine Sweet 16s. The Tigers are 0-6 in the Final Four — including losses in 1953 and 1981 in the consolation game, which is no longer played.
  • DOUBLE-TRIPLE: According to the LSU Sports Information Department, LSU and Arkansas are the only Southeastern Conference schools to play in a bowl game and have their men’s and women’s basketball teams in the NCAA tournament this school year. Only 12 other schools can say that.
  • LOUISIANA PROUD: LSU coach Johnny Jones is only the fifth coach of a Louisiana school to lead his alma mater to the NCAA tournament. The others are Jim McCafferty (Loyola), Mike Vining (UL-Monroe), Tommy Joe Eagles (Louisiana Tech) and Billy Kennedy (Southeastern).

Know Your Opponent

  • North Carolina State relies heavily on a three-guard attack with Trevor Lacey; Ralston Turner, a former LSU player; and Anthony Barber. That three-headed monster combined to average 41.1 of the Wolfpack’s 70.4 points per game for the season. Lacey led the way with 15.8 points, while Turner and Barber got 13.2 and 12.1 points per game, respectively. They were just as consistent in ACC play as they teamed up to average 40.9 points per outing. Even though they aren’t the biggest team around down low, North Carolina State starts a pair of 6-foot-8 forwards in Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman and comes off the bench with 6-9, 300-pound forward BeeJay Anya. North Carolina State has won six of its last eight games after losing six of eight at midseason and falling to 14-11.

The Lineups

LSU (22-10)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 6.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 13.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.3 ppg, 3.9 apg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 16.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 15.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 7.2 ppg, 3.9 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 0.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg

North Carolina State (20-13)

Probable Starters

  • G Trevor Lacey, 6-3, Jr., 15.8 ppg, 3.4 apg
  • G Anthony Barber, 6-2, So., 12.1 ppg, 3.8 apg
  • G Ralston Turner, 6-6, Sr., 13.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
  • F Abdul-Malik Abu, 6-8, Fr., 6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
  • F Lennard Freeman, 6-8, So., 3.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Top reserves

  • F BeeJay Anya, 6-9, So., 4.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
  • F Caleb Martin, 6-6, Fr., 5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
  • F Cody Martin, 6-6, Fr., 3.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg

So you’re telling me LSU has a chance? CBS’s Craig Carton is

The up and down LSU men’s basketball team is one of the most polarizing in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Will they be one and done? Could the Tigers make a deep run?

Craig Carton thinks the latter and he put it in writing – or at least on a dry erase board.

Carton, who co-hosts the “Boomer and Carton” show on the CBS Sports Network with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, made his picks on their show Tuesday and had LSU beating Kentucky … to win it all.

OK, it seemed a bit off the cuff, but the Tigers have a few believers out there in the national media that they will at least win a game and advance to the round of 32.

LSU (22-10) is the No. 9 seed in the East regional and takes on No. 8 N.C. State (20-13) at 8:20 p.m. CDT Thursday in a second-round game in Pittsburgh on TBS.

 

LSU forwards Martin, Mickey make AP All-SEC first-team

After earning first-team All-SEC recognition from the coaches last week, LSU forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey have been honored by writers and broadcasters who cover the league.

That duo was part of The Associated Press’ seven-man All-SEC first team that was announced Monday.

Martin, Mickey and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns tied for the fifth and final spot, but all were included on the first team because ties, like on the coaches’ team, aren’t broken.

Towns was voted freshman of the year, while Kentucky’s John Calipari took coach of the year honors for leading the Wildcats to a 34-0 record going into the NCAA tournament.

Arkansas’ Bobby Portis was selected as player of the year, matching the honor he received from the league’s 14 coaches.

AP ALL-SEC TEAMS

First team

F Bobby Portis, Arkansas, 6-11, So.

C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7-0, Jr.

G Stefan Moody, Ole Miss, 5-10, Jr.

G Josh Richardson, Tennessee, 6-6, Sr.

F Jarell Martin, LSU, 6-10, So.

F Jordan Mickey, LSU, 6-8, So.

F Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, 6-11, Fr.

Second team

G KT Harrell, Auburn, 6-4, Sr.

G Danuel House, Texas A&M, 6-7, Jr.

C Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, 6-10, So.

G Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6-6, So.

G Michael Qualls, Arkansas, 6-6, Jr.

Honorable mention

G Devin Booker, Kentucky, 6-6, Fr.; G Alex Caruso, Texas A&M, 6-5, Jr.; G Levi Randolph, Alabama, 6-5, Sr.; F Marcus Thornton, Georgia, 6-8, Sr.

Player of the year: Bobby Portis, Arkansas

Coach of the year: John Calipari, Kentucky

Freshman of the year: Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky

LSU men still in on latest ESPN.com, CBSSports.com brackets

As the LSU men’s basketball team awaits its fate from the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, the Tigers are still sitting on the brackets of the national experts as of Sunday morning.

With little movement expected today, LSU is punched in as the No. 10 seed in the West region in the eyes of CBSSports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm.

Palm has the Tigers playing No. 7 seed Michigan State, which takes on Wisconsin on Sunday for the Big Ten Conference tournament title, in Portland, Oregon.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com has LSU (22-10) as one of his last four teams in and playing in a first-round game against Boise State in Dayton, Ohio.

The winner of that game will go onto the 11 line in the West region to take on No. 6-seeded Providence in Columbus, Ohio.

LSU will find out if it made the 68-team field, and who it will play, on the NCAA Basketball Selection Show at 5 p.m. Sunday (CBS).

Opening Tip: Auburn vs. LSU

Opening Tip is posted about five hours before each game this season.

General Info

  • What: No. 13 seed Auburn (14-19) vs. No. 4 seed LSU (22-9)
  • When: 2:30 p.m. Friday (approximately)
  • Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
  • All-time series: LSU leads 84-65
  • Last meeting: LSU 84, Auburn 61 (at Auburn, Feb. 24, 2015)
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Radio: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 870; KLWB-FM, 103.7
  • In game Twitter updates: @MicklesAdvocate
  • Up next: To be determined

Starting Five

  • RETURN OF MICKEY?: LSU forward Jordan Mickey, who bruised his left shoulder against Tennessee on March 4 and missed the regular-season finale at Arkansas last Saturday, should return against Auburn. But it’s unknown how much he’ll play or how effective he’ll be.
  • THE FOUR SEED: LSU is the fourth seed for the SEC tournament after coming in second in a four-team tie-breaker with Georgia, Texas A&M and Ole Miss for the third and fourth seeds. The Tigers, a seven seed last year, won one game before falling in the quarterfinals to Kentucky.
  • JONES IN THE TOURNAMENT: LSU coach Johnny Jones, who’s 61-35 in three seasons at the school, is 2-2 in his first two SEC tournament appearances. The Tigers beat Georgia and Alabama in the second round the past two seasons, with losses to Florida and Kentucky.
  • IT’S BEEN AWHILE: The only SEC tournament title for LSU came in 1980, the year before Jones joined the program as a point guard, when the Tigers topped second-ranked Kentucky 80-78 in the championship game in Birmingham, Alabama. Forward DeWayne Scales was the tournament MVP.
  • GETTING HOT: When Auburn won its first two games here, it marked only the third time in the last 30 years it won multiple games in the SEC tournament. The Tigers’ run to the quarterfinal round is the first for a team seeded 13th or lower since the league went to 14 teams in 2013.

Know Your Opponent

  • Auburn has been on a roll since limping into the SEC tournament with six consecutive losses. But the 13th-seeded Tigers defeated Mississippi State on Wednesday night and came back 18 hours later to upset No. 5-seeded Texas A&M on Thursday. No one has to tell LSU about what Auburn can do after it dropped an 81-77 decision in Baton Rouge on Feb. 5, a game in which Auburn guards KT Harrell (28) and Antoine Mason (24) combined for 52 points. LSU held that duo to 20 points in the rematch on Feb. 24 and won going away with a big second half. In addition to Harrell and Mason, forward Cinmeon Bowers is among the SEC leaders in scoring and rebounding. He was a force in the game in Baton Rouge, but was frustrated by LSU’s defense un the second meeting. Auburn shoots just 40.7 percent from the field, but is almost as good from 3-point range at 34.6 percent.

The Lineups

Auburn (14-19)

Probable Starters

  • G K.C. Ross-Miller, 6-0, Sr., 7.2 ppg, 2.3 apg
  • G TJ Lang, 6-7, Fr., 2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg
  • G KT Harrell, 6-4, Sr., 18.4 ppg, 2.9
  • F Cinmeon Bowers, 6-7, Jr., 12.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg
  • F Jordon Granger, 6-8, Jr., 4.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Antoine Mason, 6-1, Sr., 14.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg
  • G Malcolm Canada, 6-3, Sr., 5.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg
  • F Alex Thompson, 6-9, So., 3.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg

LSU (22-9)

Probable Starters

  • G Jalyn Patterson, 6-1, Fr., 6.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg
  • G Keith Hornsby, 6-4, Jr., 13.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg
  • G Tim Quarterman, 6-6, So., 11.4 ppg, 4.0 apg
  • F Jarell Martin, 6-10, So., 16.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg
  • F Jordan Mickey, 6-8, So., 16.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg

Top reserves

  • G Josh Gray, 6-1, Jr., 7.4 ppg, 4.0 apg
  • C Darcy Malone, 7-0, So., 1.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg
  • F Brian Bridgewater, 6-5, So., 2.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg

LSU coach Johnny Jones expecting Mickey to play Friday

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – LSU coach Johnny Jones said Thursday afternoon he expects forward Jordan Mickey to play in the Tigers’ opener in the Southeastern Conference tournament on Friday.

Mickey, who was named to the All-SEC first-team on Tuesday, missed the regular-season finale against Arkansas last Saturday with a bruised left shoulder that he suffered on March 4 in a loss to Tennessee.

LSU received a double-bye as the No. 4 seed in the SEC tournament and will meet 13th-seeded Auburn around 2:30 p.m. Friday. The game will actually tip off 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Kentucky-Florida contest, which begins at noon.

Jones said Mickey practiced this week with no problems and expects him to be ready for Auburn, which advanced with a 66-59 upset of fifth-seeded Texas A&M on Thursday.

Jones said a final determination on Mickey would be made when his team got together later Thursday for an updated scouting report on Auburn, which split two meetings with LSU this season.