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JUST IN! 8:45 am CST

LSU picked up its 19th commitment for 2015 and it’s a big one - OT Chidi Valentine-Okeke (6-6, 305, Ludowici, GA). Great get for the Tigers at a position of need, and could help a lot with fellow Nigerian, DE Prince Tega Wanogho. With Valentine-Okeke’s pledge, LSU now has 19 commitments and is ranked No. 8 in 247Sports’ team rankings. 

1/29/15 5:55 am CST

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Well, it wasn’t pretty at times, but the LSU men’s basketball team overcame a late four-point deficit by going on a 12-2 run in the last three minutes of the game to pull out a 64-58 home victory over South Carolina. Josh Gray led the late rally with a 3-pointer and jumper, and LSU made five of six free throws down the stretch while holding South Carolina to 1-of-7 shooting from the floor in the last three minutes of the second half. The win, which was the team’s third in a row, improved LSU’s record to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the SEC. 

Here are the game’s video highlights, and here’s a quick recap of how it played out: Several lead changes occurred in the first half as no team led by more than five. LSU held a slim 29-28 edge at halftime before the Gamecocks used a 12-5 run to grab its largest lead at 40-34. LSU responded with a 12-5 run of its own to lead 46-45, but the Gamecocks dominated the offensive glass and hit a key 3-pointer to grab a 56-52 lead. With less than three minutes remaining, Gray led the 12-2 comeback by scoring six points on a 3-pointer, jumper and free throw, Martin added a dunk, and four free throws split between Mickey and Quarterman were the last four points that iced the game for LSU.

Tim Quarterman led the Tigers in scoring with 16 points (11 in the second half), five rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Keith Hornsby added 15 points and four rebounds. Jarell Martin posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and also blocked six shots while Jordan Mickey matched that block total of six and added 14 points and six rebounds. Josh Gray only scored one point through the first 37 minutes of the contest, but picked the right time to get hot and led LSU down the stretch, ending the night with a total of seven points. The Tigers finished the night 45.8% from the field (22-48), 35.7% from the 3-point line (5-14) and 78.9% from the free-throw line (15-19) while holding South Carolina to just 34.4% shooting from the field (21-61). LSU was out-rebounded 40-32 and committed 14 turnovers while forcing 15.

Next up for the Tigers is a 1 pm contest at Mississippi State on Saturday. The game will be telecast on the SEC Network and the radio broadcast will be available on 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge.

In football recruiting news, the LSU staff will spend its last full day on the recruiting trail today before hosting several recruits on the final weekend before Signing Day. Yesterday the staff visited two big out-of-state targets in DE Prince Tega Wanogho, Jr. (6-8, 250, Elmore, AL) and and OT Chidi Valentine-Okeke (6-6, 305, Ludowici, GA). You might recall that both of these players are of Nigerian descent and hit it off well when they visited LSU. The two are not a package deal, but I can’t help but believe that if LSU lands one it might help with the other. Valentine-Okeke is expected to announce his decision Monday and both prospects are said to be down to LSU, Auburn and Alabama. Wanogho is not expected to announce his school of choice until a couple of weeks after National Signing Day.

Another prospect that LSU has turned up the heat on lately is DB Holton Hill (6-2, 184, Houston), and his announcement could come as early as tomorrow. For a while it looked like Hill was a lock to Texas, but LSU has made up a lot of ground and feels good about where they stand with the four-star cornerback and return specialist. For what it’s worth, Nola.com’s Jimmy Smith predicts that Tiger fans will receive some surprising good news when Hill announces tomorrow. 

There are also a couple of new in-state players to keep an eye on. One is an offensive tackle from my neck of the woods who I wrote about early on, Oshea Dugas (6'5", 300, No. 20 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015) of Northside High School in Lafayette. Dugas still doesn’t have an LSU offer, but if the staff misses out on a couple of their current OT targets I look for them to reach out to Dugas, and I think he would be a great get. The other relatively new in-state target who has been generating a lot of chatter of late is DE Joe Anderson (6'4", 240, No. 27 on our list.) of Riverside High School. The word is that Anderson has some work to do in the classroom and might receive a sign-and-place deal. In these situations, a player is often placed in a junior college and then signed once he becomes eligible. If Anderson has his academic qualifications worked out in time, he could count toward this year’s class, otherwise he will likely be part of the 2016 signing class.

Speaking of homegrown talent, today we’ll continue revealing our list of top in-state prospects for 2016 with another set of 10. Here we go…

The Countdown continues….
DandyDon’s List of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2016:

41. Audwin Williams (WR/ATH), 6'3", 180, Berwick
42. Caron Baham (ATH), 6'1", 190, John Ehret
43. Daniel Crosley (DE), 6'2", 250, DeRidder
44. Malcolm Roach (TE), 6'3", 245, Madison Prep
45. Matthew Beck (QB), 6'5", 205, Alexandria Senior High
46. L’Jarius Sneed (DB), 6'2", 195, Minden
47. De’jon Harris (LB), 6'2", 230, John Ehret
48. Mastephon Taylor (DT), 6'5", 275, McDonogh 35
49. Ja'Ceiry Linzer (LB), 6'3", 225, Ascension Episcopal
50. Zack Robert (DE/LB), 6'2", 220, Jesuit 

In other football news, the former high school coach of LSU quarterback Brandon Harris made some noise yesterday when he was interviewed on a radio talk show in Shreveport. As you can hear here (at about the 17:00 mark), Coach David Feaster expressed his displeasure with Harris sitting the bench while LSU’s passing game struggled and encouraged Harris to not return to LSU and instead enroll in a junior college for one year before choosing a different D1 school. Fortunately, Feaster was not successful in his attempt to sway Harris, who appears to be fully committed to making it work at LSU. I still believe his time will come. 

In women’s basketball news, LSU’s Lady Tigers return to action tonight when they host Ole Miss at the Maravich Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:05 p.m., and the game will be televised by the SEC Network. 

In closing, it was great hearing from many of you about the Mail Call I posted yesterday. I asked if you’d like to see more of that sort of thing, and your response was a resounding yes. My plan is to do those more often, perhaps even weekly. Thanks for all of your input. 

Reminder: Less than a week remains in our annual fundraiser, and we need your help. If you value these daily doses of Tiger News, please do your part to help assure the site will remain viable and subscription-free by pledging your support. Thanks in advance for your consideration. 

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1/28/15 5:45 am CT

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

As promised, today I’ll share with you several questions and comments I’ve received lately, as well as my responses, in what I call our DandyDon Mail Call. This feature is something I started in the fall as a way to let you know what’s on the mind of many Tiger Fans I hear from, and to address a lot of common questions and comments. In today’s edition, I’ll respond to several questions related to recruiting (i.e. scholarship limits, Lanard Fournette’s offer, securing the state’s border, what goes on during an official visit), one about the 2015 football season, and one about basketball. If you enjoy this feature and would like to see it more often, be sure to let me know. I appreciate your feedback.  

DandyDon’s Mail Call - January 28 Edition

Also as promised, today we’ll begin slowly revealing our list of Top Louisiana Football Prospects for the Class of 2016, just as we’ve always done in the week preceding National Signing Day. Today we’ll go with numbers 60-51, and then each day between now and NSD we’ll reveal a few more. After the top-60 are revealed, we’ll post 61-100 plus a few that we call “The Best of the Rest.” I’ll tell you this right now: The state of Louisiana is loaded in 2016 – and what’s interesting is that it’s loaded like never before at two big positions of need for LSU, quarterbacks and defensive linemen. For example, our 2016 list includes five quarterbacks in the top-50 and nine in the top-100. By comparison, our 2015 list contained only four quarterbacks in the top-100. As for defensive linemen, Louisiana has six big-time prospects in the top-25 of our 2016 list, whereas the Class of 2015 only had two in the top-20. The 2016 class also includes a few very good linebackers. Considering that LSU’s current class of 2015 commitments only includes one defensive lineman and no linebackers, that’s certainly good news.

The Countdown begins….
DandyDon’s List of Top Louisiana Prospects for 2016:

51. Marquez Stevenson (WR), 5'11", 175, Northwood
52. Rodarius Williams (CB), 6'0", 170, Calvary Baptist
53. Tra'Vonte Booker (OL), 6'4", 300, East Feliciana
54. Jake Slaughter (WR), 6'1", 193, Ouachita Christian
55. Malik Antoine (CB), 5'11", 185, University Lab
56. Pernell Jefferson (LB), 6'3", 235, Warren Easton
57. T.J. Wisham (RB), 5'11", 215, Episcopal of Baton Rouge
58. Ladarrius Thomas (FB/LB), 6'2", 220, Wossman
59. Sully Laiche (DE), 6'2", 245, Lutcher
60. Lindsay Scott (QB), 6'0", 205, Zachary 

Jumping back to this year’s class…. While it’s true that LSU’s 2015 class of commitments is currently lacking at a few key positions of need, it’s also true that it’s exceptionally strong at running backs and defensive back. As Mike Detillier put it last week, this could be LSU’s best cornerback class in school history with Kevin Toliver, Donté Jackson and Xavier Lewis. As for the running backs, the group of three that LSU has commitments from were rated as the best in the country by 247Sports’ Barton Simmons. Here’s what he had to say: “Not that LSU needs any more talent at running back with two elite sophomores returning but they’re getting it. We wouldn’t take major issue if Derrius Guice was called the best back in the country. Nick Brossette has been one of the nation’s most productive backs in high school. David Ducre is listed as a fullback but is a specimen both physically and athletically. All three are ranked in the Top247. The LSU backfield continues to be an embarrassment of riches.”

One more 2015 recruiting tidbit to pass along: There’s a new offensive tackle prospect on the radar as Coach Miles has extended a scholarship offer to Mike Arnold (6'5", 280, Winter Haven, FL). Arnold is currently committed to VA Tech and it will be interesting to see if LSU can get him to visit this weekend.

In basketball news, LSU’s men return to action tonight when they host South Carolina at the PMAC for a 6 p.m. tipoff. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. LSU (15-4, 4-2) is riding high on the momentum of last week’s two big road wins, while South Carolina (10-8, 1-5) are coming off home losses to Tennessee and Kentucky. The Tigers should win the game if they play aggressively and don’t let the Gamecocks control the offensive boards. South Carolina out-rebounded Kentucky, 40-28, including an 18-3 margin on the offensive boards.

Lastly, if you live in the Baton Rouge area and this beautiful spring-like weather has you jonesing for some baseball, here’s LSU’s practice schedule. All of the practices are at Alex Box Stadium and free and open to the public.

LSU Baseball Practice Schedule:

Tues: Practice 4 p.m.; Scrimmage 5 p.m.
Wed: Practice 3 p.m.
Thurs: Practice 4 p.m.
Fri: Practice 3 p.m.; Scrimmage 5 p.m. 

Reader Comments: Thought you might like to post... Great advertising for LSU football with these three guys: LSU rookies impacting the NFL

Reader Comments: Scott, Just wanted to give you a heads up that Athlon did a post on LSU basketball and assessing the Tigers' path to the NCAA Tournament

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1/27/15 5:45 am CT

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Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Spring football practice is just around the corner, and yesterday LSU announced dates for several football-related events this spring, including the annual Spring Game. Spring football practice will begin in just  38 days on Saturday, March 7, and the annual National L-Club Spring Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 18 in Tiger Stadium. Interestingly, the Spring Game falls on the day when LSU baseball will playing at Georgia, and that’s unfortunate for fans who were hoping to head over to Alex Box Stadium after the football game. Other dates to note during the spring for LSU football include the annual LSU Football Coaches Clinic on March 19-20 and Pro Day on Friday, March 27. LSU will once again host “Student Appreciation Day” for the LSU student body on April 16 at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.

2015 LSU Football – Spring Dates To Note

March 7 - First Day of Spring Practice
March 19-20 - LSU Coaches Clinic
March 27 - Pro Day
April 16 - LSU Student Appreciation Day at Practice
April 18 - National L-Club Spring Game
April 30 - May 2 - NFL Draft in Chicago, Ill.

In other football news, the LSU Board of Supervisors will vote this Friday on a two-year contract for new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele worth $1 million per year. According to reports like this one by nola.com,  Steele’s base salary will be $500,000 and he’ll have a $500,000 media stipend. Steele can also earn a maximum of $125,000 in incentive bonuses annually. Former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, who left LSU for Texas A&M, made $1.312 million in his final season with the Tigers. For those of you wondering… yes, this contract also includes the cause stating that if Les Miles leaves, Steele’s contract will end six months later. That seems to be standard in all of the assistants’ recent contracts. 

As for football recruiting, things are surprisingly quiet, but I do have a couple of updates to pass along related to the info I posted yesterday. After writing that it was unlikely that LSU would add another quarterback in this class, I heard from a couple of trusted sources who said I should not be so quick to write off Ohio State commit Torrence Gibson. From what I’ve heard, Gibson’s visit to LSU went very well last weekend and the Tigers have a legitimate chance of flipping him away from the Buckeyes. Also, I learned that there’s another potential defensive end to add to the list I posted yesterday, although he’s certainly a long-shot. I’m referring to Byron Cowart (6-4, 250, Seffner, FL), the No. 1 defensive end in the country. Coward appears to be a strong lean to Florida, but LSU coaches are reportedly trying hard to get him to take a visit to LSU this coming weekend. If LSU is able to get him on campus, anything could happen. 

In men’s basketball news, after having a big week on the road last week, the Tigers saw themselves rise in a couple of NCAA Tournament projections. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com projects LSU as a 7-seed, while Joe Lunardi projects the Tigers as a No. 9 seed. Of course, none of that means anything at this point, except that folks are taking notice of LSU’s recent success. With four of the next five games at home, LSU needs to make a big run to set itself up well for their last seven SEC games. The Tigers return to action tomorrow with a 6 p.m. contest against South Carolina that will be televised on the SEC Network.  

In baseball news, Baseball America released its preseason poll and LSU came in at No. 2, which is its highest preseason ranking so far this year. In other polls released recently, LSU has come in at No. 4 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 7 (Perfect Game) and No. 9 (D1Baseball). In Baseball America’s poll which was released yesterday, LSU is one of three SEC teams in their top-10, along with Vanderbilt (No. 1) and Florida (No. 6).  

A few tidbits in closing: 

• I’ve been crazy busy lately with my other business, and with putting together my Top LA Football Prospect for 2016 list, so I’ve fallen a bit behind in answering emails. To help make up for that, tomorrow I’ll post one of our occasional Mail Calls to address some of the more common questions and comments I’ve received lately. 

• Speaking of my Top Prospect List for 2016, I hope to begin incrementally revealing its top-40 later this week, and then next week I’ll reveal the entire Top-100 and a few “Best of the Rest” on National Signing Day. 

• Our annual fundraiser ends one week from tomorrow. If you enjoy staying informed on LSU sports through these daily doses of Tiger News, please consider pledging your support. To all of you who have already contributed, my family and I extend our most sincere gratitude. 

Reader Comments: Man, LSU football is big business! I’m sure you’ve seen this, but this might be worth a share: LSU to make nearly $9 million on neutral site games against BYU, Miami

 

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