If you do not know who Jordan Mickey is you need to start paying attention. Mickey is a freshman forward for LSU, and he is playing incredibly well at the start of the season for the Tigers. LSU had high expectations from a freshman forward this season, but those hopes rested on the shoulders of Jarell Martin, not Mickey. In the season-opening loss to UMass, Martin injured his ankle and missed the following two games before coming back Friday night against Southeastern Louisiana. In the absence of Martin, Mickey has stepped up in a big way, averaging 14.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, and 4.8 blocks per game while helping lead the Tigers to a 3-1 record.
The fact that Mickey is outperforming expectations is nothing new for the forward. He was not a highly sought after recruit until his senior season; he wasn’t even ranked on ESPN’s recruiting index as a junior. Mickey accepted an offer from LSU before his senior season at Prime Prep Academy in Arlington, TX. He was briefly ruled ineligible due to his time at Prime Prep but won an appeal before the season started and was able to start the season on time. There is no one more excited about Mickey winning his appeal than LSU head coach Johnny Jones. LSU has not made the NCAA Tournament in five seasons, and if they would have faltered against a team that will be in the bottom half of the RPI at season’s end the Tigers could have gone ahead and counted on not making the tournament again this season. The Tigers have needed every point, rebound, assist, and block they have gotten from Mickey to be where they are now.
Mickey — even though not expected to — is a big key in what LSU will be able to accomplish this season. He has shown poise and confidence beyond his age. The biggest addition Mickey has brought to the team is his defense. He is a hyperactive athlete with a long wingspan, and he uses his length very well. Mickey has been all over the court for LSU, especially on the defensive end and offensive glass. He has yet to have a game when he did not register at least three blocks, and he also is averaging 3.8 offensive rebounds per game.
There were high expectations for LSU this season. They were returning four of the their top five leading scorers from a team that won 19 games last year (Johnny O’Bryant III, Andre Stringer, Anthony Hickey and Shavon Coleman) plus they were adding the second-best recruiting class in the SEC. Just making the NCAA Tournament is not the goal of this year’s Tigers team; making it deep in the tournament is what they were aiming for. With Mickey playing as well as any freshman in the country and the veteran leadership from the upperclassmen, the Tigers appear to be headed in the right direction.
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