The LSU Tigers were at best on the fringe of the 2016 NCAA tournament field entering the SEC tournament, and Saturday’s 71-38 semifinal loss to Texas A&M took them off the bubble for sure. With the NIT probably in store, head coach Johnny Jones announced on Sunday that the Tigers will not participate in any postseason tournament.
Here’s a sampling of what Jones had to say:
“I take full responsibility for this team and will do the things necessary to make sure we are able to reach one of our main goals at LSU in the future,” Jones said in a statement. “We will be able to utilize this time to get better and start preparations for next season.”
LSU finished the year at 19-14 overall and 11-7 in SEC play. Injuries to multiple key players seem to be a factor in the decision to forego postseason play, but the bigger headline is that the college career of Ben Simmons is now likely over. The star forward is widely expected to declare for the 2016 NBA Draft, and he’s projected as no worse than the second overall pick right now. So it’s an obvious decision for Simmons to go pro, especially since it’s likely he has been stretching the strict definition of what a “student-athlete” is with one eye on the NBA.
It would have been nice to see Simmons on the biggest stage college basketball has to offer this week, but a 4-6 record over their last 10 games and the bad impression of Saturday’s one-sided loss finished LSU’s chances to make the field of 68. It’s worth wondering if Simmons had any input on the decision to forego postseason play, so as not to risk injury, and the news he plans to sign with LeBron James‘ agent suggests he wants to get to the next step as soon as possible.