LSU coach Trent Johnson has landed another big man to work with in five-star center Johnny O'Bryant (Cleveland, Miss./East Side). Johnson, in his third year with the Tigers, is known for working with current NBA players Robin and Brook Lopez when he was at Stanford. O'Bryant, the No. 1 center in the 2011 class, definitely has the potential to eventually join the Lopez brothers in the NBA.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pounder is powerful and explosive with an excellent skill set. He has the physical presence of a young Dwight Howard. While he is tremendous underneath, scoring through contact and ripping down rebounds, he can also hit the 17-foot jumper with time and space.
"I am happy with his decision and he did a good job analyzing all his options," said East Side coach Leroy Cotton. "He is a gifted physical athlete who has a great work ethic and his best basketball is ahead of him."
O'Bryant has excellent touch inside, can take it to the rim off a few dribbles, loves the turnaround hook shot and is very effective in pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll situations. Plus, he's a pretty good free throw shooter. Defensively, he is a high-energy, dominant rebounder and shot-blocker, but is athletic enough to guard power forwards or centers.
At LSU, O'Bryant will join Andre Stringer and Jalen Courtney, his former teammates on the Jackson Tigers AAU squad, as Johnson infuses some elite talent into the Tigers' roster.
"I like the fact that I will have the opportunity to play immediately and play with really good friends," said O'Bryant, who chose the Tigers over Mississippi, Mississippi State and Maryland. "Plus, Coach Johnson and his staff really made feel comfortable."
By adding the No. 13 overall player in the 2011 class, the Tigers jump into the Top 25 at No. 21. He will have an immediate impact for the Tigers and be a physical post presence to score inside and out, as well as rebound on both ends. O'Bryant will also flourish in Johnson's power half-court defense.
"I am happy Johnny is in a good situation with familiar people, who will help his transition to college better," said Jackson Tigers coach Larry Stamps.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986 to 1990 and was an All-MAC first-teamer in his senior season. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter. Mike LaPlante contributed to this piece.