LSU has now seen its fifth, sixth and seventh-leading scorers from a year ago leave the program this offseason after it was announced that Matt Derenbecker had decided to withdraw from school in order to address personal matters.
As a freshman, Derenbecker started 15 of 16 SEC games and averaged 6.5 points. The departures of he and senior Garrett Green, who is transferring to San Diego State to attend graduate school, were not expected because both traveled with the Tigers on their tour of Italy in May. Aaron Dotson transferred to Utah to be closer to his mother.
Taken all together, the losses certainly hurt the team, but coach Trent Johnson sounded more concerned about Derenbecker in his statement today.
"Matt is going through a tough time right now," Johnson said. "Playing basketball is not important. We wish him the best as he moves forward."
Derenbecker said in a statement he would take time away from basketball, and an Associated Press report indicates at least part of the issue involved academics.
His father, John Derenbecker, said his son is academically eligible to continue playing for the Tigers, but has struggled to meet "personal standards" as it relates to his course work.
"Matt has to become more adept at balancing all of the requirements of being a student-athlete and that begins with the academic side of it," said John Derenbecker, a former Vanderbilt basketball player. "He is eligible, but he can do better in the classroom and that has always been our major emphasis."
In any case, LSU has to hope that its freshman class highlighted by McDonald's All-American Johnny O'Bryant makes an impact alongside its top four returning scorers.
Behind Kentucky and Vanderbilt, there is a chance for many teams in the SEC to improve in the standings. For the Tigers, who finished last in the SEC last season, losing the transfers doesn't help.