The LSU men’s basketball team’s search to fill two roster spots zeroed in on an early target in Houston transfer Danuel House.
The Cougars swingman, a former five-star recruit, is one of the few quality options left in a quickly shrinking pool of players trying to find new schools.
A source familiar with the situation said LSU coach Johnny Jones and assistant coach David Patrick have been in contact with House and are trying to secure a visit to Baton Rouge.
“They’re in the process of trying to set something up,” the source said. “I think that may be for some time in early June.”
Under the NCAA’s recruiting calendar, the LSU staff can make phone calls to House but they cannot have in-person contact until a mandated dead period ends May 30.
The Tigers didn’t wait long, with their interest in House reported late last week by CBSSports.com.
House, who Rivals.com rated as the No. 20 prospect in the nation two years ago, averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore for Houston.
But the native of Missouri City, Texas, decided to leave the program after coach James Dickey retired in late March.
Yet it’s been a protracted process.
Newly hired coach Kelvin Sampson initially denied House, along with leading scorer and power forward TaShawn Thomas, a release from their scholarships.
On April 18, the pair received transfer waivers, but not without restrictions. House cannot go to a American Athletic Conference program, an opponent on the Cougars schedule this season, or another school in Texas.
House has already taken two visits to potential suitors.
In early May, he visited South Carolina, and was on Texas A&M’s campus during the middle of the week before the dead period went into place Thursday.
“He spent a couple days up there,” the source said, adding that UCLA and UNLV are also in the mix.
It also helps that House is working out with LSU guards Josh Gray and Keith Hornsby with former Oklahoma State coach John Lucas this week in Houston.
Landing House would be a coup, even if he does have to sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules.
The Tigers’ depth on the wing took a hit last week when a trio of veterans — guards Anthony Hickey and Malik Morgan along with small forward Shane Hammink — left the program.
Morgan, who transferred to Tulane on Wednesday, would likely have sat out the upcoming season with a medical redshirt after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee against Auburn in February.
Hammink, who averaged 1.2 points and 1.0 rebounds in his career, saw barely six minutes a game last season.
Hickey, whose 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio led the SEC, didn’t have his scholarship renewed, taking 85 career starts out the door. But Jones has expressed confidence that junior college transfer Josh Gray, a four-star talent, can come in and take the controls.
And LSU hasn’t shown a tendency to scramble.
Guard Keith Hornsby, who sat out this past season, didn’t transfer in from UNC-Asheville until the middle of June last year.
But many productive transfers, particularly guards, from high-major programs have already settled on new destinations. Meanwhile, the scant number of players up for a graduate-transfer waiver, making them immediately eligible, has also dwindled.
As for House, the time line to reach a decision appears to be a couple of weeks.
“He’s taking it as wait-and-see,” the source said. “I don’t think he’s in a hurry or anything.”