A mere five days after the LSU basketball team signed Scotlandville’s Brian Bridgewater, junior center Jalen Courtney was granted a release to transfer from the program, the school announced Monday.
Inking Bridgewater, a three-star recruit, last week meant coach Johnny Jones’ team was one player over the NCAA-mandated limit of 13 scholarships. So LSU either had to have a player depart or move into a walk-on role.
The departure of Courtney, whose possible destinations weren’t disclosed, removes intrigue surrounding who might be staying or departing.
The evidence hinted in the past week that the Jackson, Miss., native might leave the ranks, considering LSU’s seven-player recruiting class — rated between No. 7 and No. 10 nationally — tilted heavily toward the front court with prospects listed as either a forward or center.
Courtney, who averaged 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds, struggled to break into a lineup that was threadbare in its low-post rotation. Appearing in 26 games, he never earned a start while playing just 8.7 minutes per game, and he was passed up by former walk-on Andrew Del Piero on a roster with only two players taller than 6-foot-8.
Courtney, who signed as a three-star prospect out of Provine High School, played in 51 games and scored a career-high 14 points against Grambling in December 2011.
Even if Courtney’s minutes weren’t heavy, his departure means LSU loses four upperclassmen. The Tigers are set to have eight underclassmen, including five freshmen, on the roster next season, with only sophomore guards Malik Morgan and Corban Collins having seen extensive minutes.
LSU returns starting guards in junior Anthony Hickey and senior Andre Stringer, along with junior forward Johnny O’Bryant III, an All-SEC pick. Senior small forward Shavon Coleman also is set to return.