When Trent Johnson left Stanford for LSU in 2008, it sent shock waves -- not fear -- throughout the coaching fraternity. Johnson was revered for his high character, and he had success in Palo Alto with the Lopez twins, but SEC coaches knew he was an outsider, that he wouldn’t be a legitimate threat to keep the top talent at home.
Johnny Jones was hired a little more than a year ago to replace Johnson in Baton Rouge, and it sent a different kind of reaction throughout the league: panic and trepidation.
“We all knew how hard it would be to get players out of the state of Louisiana,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “Johnny works -- and he’s so connected down there.”
Sure, Johnson did manage to land highly rated Johnny O’Bryant in the class of 2011, but the gems have been few and far between during his four-year tenure with the Tigers. Already, the homegrown Jones -- the popular pick when Johnson was hired -- has made waves on the recruiting trail.
Jones wasted no time in keeping Baton Rouge product Jarell Martin (ESPN, No. 11), a consensus Top 25 player and potential one-and-done kid, at home. He also brought in two more Top-100 caliber players -- big man Jordan Mickey (No. 38) and guard Tim Quarterman (No. 80) -- as part of a freshman class that ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
Jones has also landed big man Elbert Robinson (No. 54) in the Class of 2014, and -- with the help of assistant David Patrick -- received a commitment from one of the elite players in the Class of 2015: skilled Australian forward Ben Simmons (No. 4).
LSU is back. Well, maybe not completely -- but the Tigers are coming.