Will Wade has become one the most galvanizing figures in College Basketball, his ability to land recruits out of the middle of nowhere is truly something that we haven’t seen. That was on full display this offseason when Five-Star big man Efton Reid went from likely committing to Pittsburgh one day, to committing to LSU just two days later. On the court, Wade’s Tigers have been a consistently great offensive team over the past two years, but this might be the year where the Tigers might want to improve greatly on the defensive end. Gone is the high-scoring trio of Cam Thomas, Javonte Smart, and Trendon Watford, now it is up to a new core of players to fill the offensive void.
Wade went to the transfer portal in hopes of finding a new duo of ball-handlers as Xavier Pinson and Adam Miller look to be the starting pieces in the backcourt. Miller will be the key piece of the two, the former Top-50 recruit was inconsistent a year ago for Illinois but showed flashes of being the potential primary scoring option. Miller is a pure bucket-getter, and he has the range to knock down threes but will now have to shoulder the load offensively, which is something he has expressed an interest in doing. Xavier Pinson will likely start at the point, he’s a solid pickup, while not really elite at one thing, Pinson can run the point, shoot it from deep, and like Miller showed flashes of being a primary scoring option, but was a model of inconsistency last season.
Darius Days returns is the team’s leading returning scorer, he’s a perfect modern-day four, he’s an elite three-point shooter, who can score inside, rebound, and is pretty consistently able to get you around 10-15 points per night. Freshman Efton Reid will come in and be the primary option inside, he’s a 7’0 big man that has strong post moves, good footwork, and while he’s probably not going to be a great defender, his game fits the mold of a good college big man. With inconsistency at the guard spot, this frontcourt duo fits well together on paper, Days will stretch the defense with his shooting, which will also allow Reid to score 1 on 1 in the post.
With those four players set to start, Wade could go many different ways for the fifth starter, and there looks to be two options for that spot. Cincinnati transfer Tari Eason provides the team with a great defender, who is athletic and can switch a little bit defensively, which would be absolutely huge for a team that has struggled defensively. Mwani Wilkinson started half of the games for LSU a season ago and showed himself to be a solid defender, while not really a shooter, his athleticism will help him score, especially with some extra effort. Eric Gaines will continue to come in and provide some aid as a backup guard, who probably will play around 10-15 minutes a game. Freshman Brandon Murray could be someone that collects more minutes throughout the season, he is a decent shooter who could become a true sixth man for this team.
All in all, this team will be one of the more intriguing teams in the SEC, the duo of Xavier Pinson and Adam Miller will ultimately determine how good this team can be, and that may be a scary thought. Miller and Pinson is a good enough duo to win them games against good teams, but how low are the lows? Efton Reid is a great recruit but is he able to come in and produce 15 points per game. While Tari Eason and Mwani Wilkinson will provide some much-needed defense, both could be somewhat of liabilities on the offensive end as well. In the end, this is still a team that is losing a lot of production and while the replacements are solid, this team seems more bound for the bubble than having the ability to contend for an SEC title like in years past.
PG: Xavier Pinson
SG: Adam Miller
SF: Mwani Wilkinson
PF: Darius Days
C: Efton Reid
B1: Tari Eason
B2: Brandon Murray
B3: Eric Gaines
B4: Jerrell Colbert