What Jordan Mickey’s Early Exit Means For LSU

Posted by Greg Mitchell on April 2nd, 2015

Jordan Mickey joined former teammate Jarell Martin in declaring for the NBA draft this week, forgoing two years of eligibility and depriving the college basketball world of an LSU team that could have legitimately given next year’s Kentucky team a run for its money in terms of talent. Here is a rundown of what his departure means for the Tigers.

Jordan Mickey will enter the NBA draft after two highly productive seasons at LSU (lsusports.net).

Jordan Mickey will enter the NBA draft after two highly productive seasons at LSU. (lsusports.net)

  • Surprise Factor: Low. It took him a little longer than his teammate Martin to announce his decision, but this was expected.
  • Legacy: Mickey certainly got his money’s worth during his two years in Baton Rouge. He racked up all-SEC honors both years (1st and 2nd teams) and landed on the all-defensive team twice. He also leaves LSU with the second-most blocked shots in program history (218), looking up only to Shaquille O’Neal. He’s meant a lot for Johnny Jones as well, who used his North Texas/Dallas connection to get the top-50 prospect to LSU. Mickey had become a legitimate NBA prospect after his freshman year, and while that’s not shocking for a guy with his pedigree, recruits ranked where he was can be somewhat hit and miss. Jones should use Mickey’s clear development as a selling point when sitting in future prospects’ living rooms.

  • Good or Bad Decision? This is hard to judge. Mickey undeniably had a great sophomore season and possesses an elite skill in shot-blocking that makes him attractive as an NBA prospect. But CBSSports’ Sam Vecenie sums it up perfectly in suggesting that the power forward could have benefited from another year in Baton Rouge: “Mickey was in a really good position to raise his draft stock next season if he had returned next year. With Jarell Martin’s exit, as well as Ben Simmons‘ and Antonio Blakeney‘s arrivals, Mickey was something of a perfect fit for the Tigers. He would have been able to patrol the paint as a rim protector and continue to develop offensively with fewer expectations, as Blakeney would be in the fold to take some pressure off, along with another year of improvement from LSU’s guards Tim Quarterman, Jalyn Patterson and Josh Gray.” Unlike Martin, however, Mickey never showed that he could play on the wing, meaning that he’s almost certainly destined to become an undersized four at the next level. He probably needs to market himself as a 15-minute-per-game rim-protecting garbageman, and there are plenty of spots available for those kinds of players in the league. In that sense, his best case scenario could be like a Taj Gibson. Mickey doesn’t have an especially intriguing offensive skill set and it’s likely he will get picked up in the second round, but the burning question is whether he could have developed the offensive side of his game to become a surefire first-rounder in 2016.
  • Filling Those Shoes: Jones now has the luxury of replacing Mickey with Simmons, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect. The 6’9’’ Australian forward profiles as more of a perimeter-oriented player but he’ll replenish the team’s overall athleticism. The Tigers are fine in the backcourt and primary scoring roles if Simmons and Blakeney hit the ground in Baton Rouge running. But Jones needs a few other players to rebound, block shots and make it tough for opposing teams to find quality looks in the paint. That’ll need to come from the group of Darcy Malone, Aaron Epps and Brian Bridgewater, each of whom gave Jones very little this past season.
  • Team Outlook: Oh brother, what could have been had just one of Mickey or Martin stayed! As Vecenie wrote, Mickey would have been the perfect rim-protecting complement to the two stud freshmen because he doesn’t command the ball on offense. The Tigers should still be a worthy NCAA Tournament team but they would have had legitimate Sweet Sixteen aspirations with Mickey back in action. The subtext for Jones, who has taken a fair share of criticism over the last few years, is obvious. Suppose LSU again fails to win an NCAA Tournament game next year, a valid possibility given that the Tigers will be relying so heavily on two freshmen. That would mean that over the course of three seasons with talents like Mickey, Martin, Blakeney, Simmons and Johnny O’Bryant on the roster, Jone would not have picked up a single NCAA Tournament win. The point is that it’s time for Jones to get some results, starting immediately.
Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *