If Anthony Hickey hopes to regain his status as an LSU starter, coach Johnny Jones said the sophomore point guard will have to earn it.
Hickey returned to the LSU men’s basketball team for its recent two-game road trip and saw action against Boise State and UC Irvine off the bench. He had missed a Dec. 11 home game against Chattanooga while serving an indefinite suspension for what Jones called a violation of athletic department and university policies.
“It’s just a matter of him working his way back and getting himself back into the starting lineup,” Jones said. “I think his minutes have showed that he’s back in good graces, but we’re just not handing out rewards or anything. I think if he continues to work hard, some good things will happen for him. I’ve been pleased with the way he’s adjusted to that and not allowed whether he starts or not to really affect his game.”
Freshman Corban Collins is likely to start his fourth game Saturday at Marquette with Hickey once again filling a reserve role.
Hickey played 13 minutes — all in the second half — in the 89-70 loss at Boise and finished with three points, two assists and two steals. His minutes increased to 21 in the 66-60 win at Irvine as the former Kentucky Mr. Basketball had 10 points, two assists and two steals.
Because of his off-court missteps, Hickey said he understands nothing will be given to him and that he aims to earn what he gets.
“I know Corban’s going to go out there and give it his all,” Hickey said. “He’s going to run the team. I’m just going to go out there and give it my all when my number’s called. Nothing’s given. You should want to work your way to the top.”
Hickey, who averages 9.1 points. 4.3 assists and 3.7 steals, faced disciplinary action earlier this year, first being suspended for a preseason game and later being benched to start a Nov. 24 game against Mississippi Valley.
But the latest setback included a news release, a prepared statement by Jones and far more uncertainty about Hickey’s future.
Hickey said it hit home.
“I was suspended indefinitely,” he said. “There were no guarantees I’d get a second chance. I started taking care of my business, doing the right things early. It was the wake-up call I needed. Everybody needs a wake-up call every once in a while.”
Jones said he was pleased with how Hickey has responded.
“I’ve love his attitude, how hard he’s worked and what he’s given our basketball team,” Jones said.
Jones said junior-college signee John Odo will arrive on campus Wednesday and should be able to start practicing with LSU by month’s end. He cannot participate in games until next fall, but will practice with LSU throughout the second half of the season. ... Sophomore walk-on Dave Jackson has left the team to focus on academics. The graduate of Central Private, in his first year with the program, saw action in three games with a total of five minutes played. ... LSU has posted 127 assists this season for 222 made baskets, giving the Tigers an average of .572 assists per basket. LSU opponents, conversely, have just 78 assists for 187 made baskets (.417).