Fri Oct 08 12:52pm EDT
Since coming from nowhere to win the SEC championship and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2009, the LSU Tigers haven't produced many good memories for their fans.
They flirted with a winless SEC season last year on their way to a dismal 11-20 record. They graduated leading scorer Tasmin Mitchell and lost second-leading scorer Bo Spencer for the season for academic reasons. And they haven't recruited well enough to generate too much enthusiasm for the program's future.
That all changed Thursday when Rivals.com's Neal McCready reported that promising four-star Class of 2011 power forward Johnny O'Bryant has selected LSU. O'Bryant so far will only say that he has decided between LSU, Maryland and Ole Miss and will announce his decision publicly next week.
Assuming O'Bryant does indeed commit to LSU next week, the impact would be similar to what Jabari Brown selecting Oregon on Thursday does for the Ducks. It would remind fans that no matter how bad things get this season at LSU, there's hope for the future under coach Trent Johnson in Baton Rouge.
The 6-foot-9 O'Bryant, a native of Cleveland, Miss., is Rivals.com's 38th-ranked recruit in the Class of 2011, making him the most decorated recruit Johnson has landed since coming to LSU in 2008. He's still a bit raw offensively, but his rebounding, athleticism and motor give him the chance to make an impact immediately in college.
Couple O'Bryant with the solid four-man class that arrives this season at LSU, and the Tigers have a decent foundation to build on in the future. It probably won't be enough to be competitive even in the lackluster SEC West next season, but at least it gives Tigers fans a reason for optimism.