When he left North Texas to take over at his alma mater, one of the first priorities for LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones was to hit the ground running during the April 11-May 16 spring singing period.
Jones nabbed Howard College recruits Shavon Coleman and Calvin Godfrey and signed Shane Hammink from overseas, giving LSU three spring signees to go with John Curtis wing Malik Morgan, who signed in the fall under the old regime.
Even though the spring signing period has ended, Jones said Thursday he and his coaching staff will stay busy through the summer trying to find help.
“We’d still like to add a post guy and another combo guard possibly,” Jones said.
LSU goes into its first year under Jones with only five scholarship players returning from the final year of the Trent Johnson era.
Star center Justin Hamilton announced before Johnson’s departure that he would leave school early to pursue a pro career. Ralston Turner has since left for North Carolina State and John Isaac (who failed to meet eligibility requirements for the upcoming season, according to an LSU news release) has left the program as well.
If the season started tomorrow, LSU would have nine scholarship players on its roster. Walk-on senior Andrew Del Piero is also due back.
LSU can carry up to 13 players on scholarship under NCAA rules. But Jones said with Eddie Ludwig being the only senior on scholarship, he wants to make sure the Tigers have plenty of available spots for the 2013 recruiting class.
“What we’ve got to guard against is making sure we don’t just sign guys to sign them,” Jones said. “We’ve got to make sure we have quality guys in the program that are going to help us go where we’re trying to go. If not, we’re dealing with some issues for the next two or three years that may be a concern for us, especially if guys are not capable of playing at that level.”
Godfrey, a 6-foot-8 post player, averaged 12.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in 31 games for Howard College after playing the 2010-11 season at Iowa State. He has two years of eligibility remaining. Coleman, a 6-6 small forward, averaged 14.7 points and 1.7 assists, scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Howard’s regional title game. He graduated from Thibodaux High, where he earned the District 8-5A MVP award as a senior. He also has two years of eligibility.
Hammink, a 6-6 wing, is the son of former LSU All-American Geert Hammink, who played for the Tigers during the Dale Brown era. Playing last year for the Netherlands in the U18 European championships, he averaged 12.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in seven games.
The three spring signees will join Morgan, who led Curtis to the Class 2A state title as a senior and was named the classification’s player of the year.
“When you look at our needs from guys who graduated last year or ended up transferring, the wing area was something we knew we had to address,” Jones said. “I think with Shavon Coleman and Shane Hammink, we were able to address the needs we had in that area.”
Jones said Godfrey addresses a need in the post, but the Tigers have little experience returning down low and may still need some help there.
“We possibly need another post guy with a presence in there, someone who will be able to step in and help us right away,” Jones said.
Because he and his staff got such a late start recruiting the 2012 class, Jones said the Tigers would be attracted to the prospect of adding a veteran player who has graduated from another school and would arrive at LSU with one year of eligibility remaining.
Such a player would be available immediately, as the NCAA does not require transfers who have graduated to sit out a year at their new school.
“If we can maybe find a good player out there that would have one year available because they’ve graduated from their prior institution and they wanted to enroll here, that would be ideal for us,” Jones said. “Because for one thing, they’d have experience, and for another, they would be in and out for that one year, so that those scholarships would become available for incoming freshmen (the following year) or an incoming class.”