LSU Tigers: Johnny Jones

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU football assistants Cam Cameron, John Chavis and Frank Wilson were among six Tigers coaches -- a group that also included men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones, women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell and gymnastics coach D-D Breaux -- who spoke at the school’s Tiger Tour stop on Wednesday.

We’ll flesh out some of what the football coaches had to say in future stories, but here are some of the highlights from their conversations with the media before the booster function.

• Cameron, LSU’s offensive coordinator, was clearly chapped over the validity and timing of recent reports that former Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s drug test results were flagged at the NFL combine. Mettenberger’s drug sample was diluted, but his reps claimed that it was because he was drinking extra water to combat dehydration while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

“That information -- which tells you a little bit about the guy who released the story, No. 1, and the way the media works today -- that information’s been out 30 days. It’s been out for a while,” Cameron said. “And then to strategically, I guess, announce it at this time just goes to show what the motive was. It was either selfish motivation individually for that person or it was a message sent by somebody that wanted to see their quarterback above him. We know Zach. I’m pretty worked up over that, by the way.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Jennings
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsCam Cameron sees plenty of potential for improvement in Anthony Jennings.
“Zach Mettenberger is our guy, one of the great quarterbacks to ever play here, and he’s got my and Les [Miles’] and our program’s backing 100 percent. So we’ve been in contact. The guys that were really interested and are looking for that kind of quarterback have already done their homework, contacted us a long time ago, talked to Jack [Marucci, LSU’s head trainer], talked to all our people, and the teams that know, it’s a non-issue. The teams that didn’t do their homework, then they’re scrambling now to try to clarify some things.”

• Cameron said he was encouraged by the progress made by quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris in spring practice, particularly because they were still so raw.

“I’m really excited about where we’re headed at the quarterback position, and here’s the reason: We’re doing some good things and we still don’t have the fundamentals down yet,” Cameron said. “I’ve always found that to be a good sign: When you’re doing good things but you haven’t mastered the fundamentals – whether it be quarterback-center exchange, taking the proper first step, getting the exact first read – and you’re still being productive, that’s a great sign for LSU football, vs. a guy who’s doing everything right and he’s really well coached and very coachable and not getting a lot done; that’s not good.”

• Wilson, LSU’s recruiting coordinator, said the offensive line will be one priority in the 2015 signing class. The Tigers might start three seniors in center Elliott Porter, left tackle La’el Collins and either Evan Washington or Fehoko Fanaika at right guard, plus a draft-eligible junior in left guard Vadal Alexander.

“We’re top-heavy in this upcoming class at some positions: at the center position with Elliott Porter, with La’el Collins, with Vadal Alexander. That’s the way we want it,” Wilson said. “See that’s the catch. In one sense, we’re saying, ‘What are y’all going to do now?’ And then in the other sense, it’s like, ‘Get them to stay.’ Do we want them to stay or do we want them to leave? We want them to stay, of course, and have the problem that we have, which is a good problem, to be top-heavy so that the influx of incoming freshmen or junior college transfers can come in and contribute to our team.

“So our plan is just to be conscientious of what we’re losing and we have a plan in place to replace those guys that we foresee leaving.”

• Chavis, the Tigers’ defensive coordinator, listed defensive tackle Christian LaCouture and end Danielle Hunter as linemen who should make a bigger impact this season.

[+] EnlargeKendell Beckwith
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsSophomore linebacker Kendell Beckwith was LSU's highest-rated signee in the Class of 2013.
“There’s several guys, with Christian being one of those guys obviously inside [now], that we’ve got two guys to replace,” Chavis said. “I think Danielle Hunter will take his game to a different level even though he played extremely well for us last year. He’s capable of going to a different level. So there’s some good leadership there. You get Jermauria Rasco back out there and get him healthy and we get a chance to see him play healthy for a full season. We’ll be fine.”

• Chavis added that senior middle linebacker D.J. Welter – who won the Tigers’ Jimmy Taylor Award, which goes to the player who showed the best leadership, effort and performance in spring practice – was truly outstanding in the spring, in part because of the presence of talented sophomore Kendell Beckwith.

“D.J. by far had the best spring practice that you can easily say that I’ve been around,” Chavis said. “He was incredible this spring, and I think rightfully so because he’s got a big guy behind him that’s pushing him that’s going to be a great football player and that’s going to play. Kendell Beckwith’s going to play a lot of football this year and for a while here at LSU. Competition makes you better and I think he took heed to the competition.”

• Cameron, who returned to the college game last year after more than a decade in the NFL, said he has thoroughly enjoyed the recruiting aspect of his job.

“There’s no better joy I get than recruiting for LSU, I can tell you. You walk into a school and everybody takes notice. You walk into a school and every kid’s eyes light up. And every airport you walk through, I walked through the Dallas airport and it’s ‘Geaux Tigers’ at every gate I go by. Houston, ‘Geaux Tigers.’ I was in New Jersey recently, ‘Geaux Tigers.’ It’s a joy to recruit for LSU.”
Momentum is a powerful thing in the world of college basketball recruiting. While it tends to be a constant for a select few national powerhouses like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, virtually all other programs in the country are constantly competing for any edge that can push them to that next level.

In the wake of our initial 2014 ESPN 100 player rankings release last week and as we start a team-by-team breakdown of 2014 recruiting targets by conference over the next two weeks, here’s a look at five college hoops programs that are heading into the 2014 recruiting class with some very positive momentum.

LSU signs three ESPN 100 hoop stars 

November, 15, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- On the court, Johnny Jones hasn't seen his first big test yet.

In recruiting, however, the first-year LSU coach won big on Wednesday.

LSU received national letters of intent from three ESPN 100 players: forwards Jarrell Martin and Jordan Mickey and guard Tim Quarterman. LSU also announced the signing of John Odo, a center from Hill College in Texas, to an SEC Aid Agreement. Odo will enroll at LSU in January and because of that, does not sign a NLI.

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Tiny Tigers have big dreams 

October, 11, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Anthony Hickey has a new look this season.

Gone are the thick dreadlocks that became his signature look during a freshman season in which he averaged 8.9 points and 3.8 assists. He now sports a close-cut look that makes him look more streamlined, perhaps a bit shorter and altogether different from last year.

Kind of like his LSU team.

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Big recruiting week for LSU's Jones

September, 30, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- When Johnny Jones was hired as LSU's basketball coach in the spring, he came with the reputation of being a top-notch recruiter.

Evidence of that has been pouring in this week.

Just two days after the Tigers landed a commitment from ESPN 100 forward Jordan Mickey, Jones added a second ESPN 100 commitment Sunday when point guard Tim Quarterman (Savannah, Ga./Johnson) pledged to sign with the Tigers. They are the first two ESPN 100 commitments Jones has landed for the Tigers since he arrived on campus to replace Trent Johnson, who left LSU for TCU.

It's huge for LSU, a program that hasn't been to an NCAA tournament since winning the SEC in 2009 and hasn't consistently been able to land top-tier talent. In Jones' short tenure, all of his recruits before this week -- point guard Corban Collins and wings Shane Hammink and Shavon Coleman in the 2012 class and junior college big men John Odoh and Deng Deng as early commitments in the 2013 class -- were relatively unknown, sleeper-type recruits.

What this week proves is LSU won't necessarily have to rely on the under-the-radar guy -- Jones can contend for top talent.

The addition of Quarterman also further clarifies the picture of what kind of team Jones wants to have. In Coleman and Hammink, Jones signed a pair of long, 6-foot-6 wings and Deng and Mickey are both versatile, athletic, 6-8 players. With big point guards like the 6-foot-5 Quarterman and the 6-3 Collins, LSU's future lineups appear to be ones of across-the-board athleticism and length.

A lineup with Quarterman at the point, Deng and Mickey inside and Coleman and Hammink on the wings would be all players 6-5 and taller, but not taller than 6-8, with the interchangeable ability to switch on screens and get in passing lanes with long arms and athleticism on defense and run with explosiveness and skill on the fast break on offense.

With four commitments already, LSU has one more scholarship to give in the class.

And there is at least one more ESPN 100 player who shares a mutually strong interest with LSU, 6-foot-7 forward Jarrell Martin, a local talent from just a few miles north of LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. If Jones can add Martin -- another versatile, athletic forward -- it would further establish the identity of Jones' Tigers teams going forward.

And it would also further establish LSU, under Jones, as a legitimate player in the national recruiting scene.

LSU adds biggest in a 'big'-heavy class 

September, 28, 2012
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Remember the summer when new coach Johnny Jones struggled mightily to find big men for LSU?

Seems like a long time ago now.

Jordan Mickey, a 6-foot-8 forward from Arlington, Texas, announced Thursday that he was the third commitment for LSU's 2013 class, all big men. Mickey, the No. 45 player in the ESPN 100, joined junior college transfers John Odoh, a 6-10 shot-blocker, and Deng Deng, a versatile, 6-8 Australian, in the class.

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Odoh commits to Tigers 

September, 4, 2012
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LSU landed its second basketball commitment in one day when 6-foot-11 Hill College center John Odoh chose to commit to LSU on Monday.

Odoh, a native of Nigeria, originally signed with North Texas last spring, but got out of the letter of intent after head coach Johnny Jones left UNT for LSU. Odoh was unsuccessful in an attempt to become academically eligible to play for the Tigers in summer school and had to return to junior college.

His juco coach, Swede Trenkle, confirmed the commitment via email Monday night.

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LSU lands juco forward Deng 

September, 3, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU landed its first recruit for the 2013 basketball signing class when Deng Deng, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound Australian playing at Lee College in Baytown, Texas committed Monday, his coach confirmed.

Lee's coach, Roy Champage, said LSU is getting a skilled, international-style small forward with SEC length.

"He's a 6-8 small forward who has the ability to have mismatches and play big close to the basket," Champagne said. "He's not a thick body type, but he's constantly working. He has a cut upper body, but a slender lower body, so he's not what I would call a power forward."

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UNT means bad weather in Baton Rouge

August, 29, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Maybe the lesson learned this week for LSU is this: Don't schedule North Texas.

[+] EnlargeKatrina Aftermath
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyHurricane Katrina forced LSU's season opener against North Texas to be postponed in 2005.
LSU will play the Eagles for the fifth time in school history Saturday if Baton Rouge emerges OK from the effects of Hurricane Isaac, which is blowing through Baton Rouge with prolonged tropical storm force Wednesday.

This is all too familiar for LSU and North Texas.

In 2005, LSU's season opener against North Texas was postponed because of Hurricane Katrina and was instead played Oct. 29 (LSU won, 56-3). In 2008, Hurricane Gustav forced LSU to push up the start of its season opener against Appalachian State to a morning start, then postpone its second game against Troy. LSU's first game to go on as originally scheduled was against North Texas in the season's third week (LSU won, 41-3).

"I don't think North Texas has anything to do with it," said LSU coach Les Miles, who was the Tigers' coach in the previous two North Texas games. "But it is an unusual coincidence."

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Charles Carmouche added to LSU roster 

August, 25, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Charles Carmouche, a New Orleans native and former University of New Orleans player, will play his senior season for LSU, the school announced Saturday.

Carmouche, a 6-foot-3 guard, graduated from Memphis, where he averaged 7.4 points as a junior in 2010-11 where he started 28 of the 32 games he played. He played seven games in his senior season before being sidelined because of tendinitis in both knees. He was eventually granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA and sought a transfer after receiving his degree in interdisciplinary studies from Memphis.

Because he's a graduate seeking a post-graduate program, he is able to transfer without sitting out a year.

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Men's hoops: Tigers look to small ball 

August, 24, 2012
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BATON ROUGE -- If you are waiting for a last-minute arrival of a mystery big man for LSU's men's basketball team, don't bother.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Jones
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesFirst-year LSU coach Johnny Jones will make due with a roster than lacks depth down low.
Head coach Johnny Jones said Friday in an exclusive interview with GeauxTigerNation he's counting on what will probably be an 11-man roster for the 2012-2013 season made up primarily of guards. There are 10 players currently on the roster and, though Jones would not confirm it, it is believed former Memphis guard Charles Carmouche might be the 11th player.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner has said he expects Carmouche, a New Orleans native who graduated from Memphis in May and is looking for another school where he can enroll in graduate school and play as a senior, to transfer to LSU.

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David Patrick, a graduate of the Dunham School in Baton Rouge, La., and a native of Bermuda with extensive international basketball ties, was hired as an assistant men's basketball coach at LSU, it was announced Wednesday in an LSU news release.

Patrick, who was a player personnel scout for the Houston Rockets when he was hired by LSU, replaced Shawn Forrest, who resigned for personal reasons.

"We are definitely excited about the addition of David Patrick to our staff," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. "He will not only be able to help us with game planning and practice preparation, but we look forward to forward to him helping us raise our level of recruiting at LSU, both regionally, as well as nationally."

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Collins gives LSU 'complete' look 

June, 19, 2012
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When point guard Corban Collins became LSU's fifth recruit for the 2012 basketball signing class last week, it gave a look of completion for Johnny Jones' first Tigers signing class.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Jones
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesJohnny Jones' 2012 recruiting class is impressive considering he was named head coach of LSU less than three months ago.
Sort of.

Collins gives LSU two true point guards (along with returning starter Anthony Hickey) to go with four wings (returning starter Andre Stringer and recruits Shavon Coleman, Malik Morgan and Shane Hammink), two "face-up," perimeter-shooting forwards (Eddie Ludwig and Jalen Courtney) and two "true" post players (returning starter Johnny O'Bryant III and recruit Calvin Godfrey).

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GTN writers Gary Laney and David Helman answer your questions in this week's mailbag. You can send questions to glaneyespn@gmail.com or helmanespn@gmail.com or their Twitter accounts, helmanespn or glaneyespn.

Today, they'll discuss:

1. Recruiting grades

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Recently hired LSU assistant men's basketball coach Shawn Forrest resigned for personal reasons, head coach Johnny Jones announced Monday in an LSU news release.

Forrest was on Jones' staff at North Texas and joined Jones at LSU in April.

"I appreciate the opportunity given to me by Coach Jones and LSU," Forrest said in the news release. "There are personal matters that have taken priority that I need to give immediate attention."

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