- Gary Laney, Reporter, GeauxTigerNation
As the day progressed Wednesday, rumors that LSU would lose as much as 60 percent of its men's basketball starting lineup went from a whisper to the buzz around Baton Rouge.
At day's end, it's safe to say the rumors are probably wrong ... at least two of them.
The one rumor that may prove correct is the one concerning center Justin Hamilton, the Tigers' leading scorer and rebounder last season. Team spokesman Kent Lowe confirmed that Hamilton is weighing his options and the junior could decide to go pro instead of coming back for his senior season.
The second-team all-SEC performer will graduate at the end of the spring semester and will get married in the summer. The 7-footer is considered a marginal NBA prospect at best, but could probably make good money overseas as opposed to playing for free while pursuing a graduate degree next season.
On the other hand, Hamilton, who averaged 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2011-12, was still a work in progress last season. Head coach Trent Johnson often talked about how he was a "go-to" scorer for the first time in his basketball life and it showed with sometimes inconsistent results.
A 49 percent shooter who turned the ball over a lot (57 times), Hamilton could opt to return to school to become more efficient as a low-post scoring threat.
A source close to the program said Hamilton could go "either way" and that news of Hamilton's decision could come out as soon as Thursday.
As for the other players rumored on leaving, don't count on it. Lowe said both point guard Anthony Hickey and power forward Johnny O'Bryant are participating in the team's off-season program, something they would not do if they were seeking a release to attend another school, Lowe said.
Hickey and O'Bryant both started as freshmen last year. Hickey, who averaged 8.9 points and led the team with 125 assists, was on the SEC's all-freshman team. O'Bryant, a former McDonald's All-American, averaged 8.5 points and 6.7 rebounds. If Hamilton leaves, he'd be the one true low-post threat returning.