Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
Guard Daryl Edwards is expected to return for LSU basketball in 2018-19.

Let’s hear it for way better LSU basketball season than anyone expected

Nick Suss

LSU football is in the news every day, and the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to keep you updated with the latest headlines five mornings a week. Join us every Monday through Friday for the biggest news on Tigers football, recruiting, baseball and more. Enjoy!

The end is not the ending

The 2017-18 LSU basketball season came to an end on Monday night with a blowout loss to Utah in the second round of the NIT. But don’t let the ending spoil what was an otherwise shockingly good year. Let’s not forget: This is a team that lost a preseason scrimmage against Tulane by 10 points, then Tulane went on to finish 5-13 in the American Athletic Conference.

MORE: Sign up here to get this roundup in your inbox Monday through Friday

LSU’s turnaround from the beginning of the season to now, and from 2016-17 to 2017-18, has been nothing short of impressive. The Tigers were the preseason favorites to come in last place in the SEC for a reason. LSU was a team coming off one of the worst years in school history and still losing its leading scorer to pro ball. And it’s not as if all the deficiencies were cured. LSU won games this year despite ranking 264th in the nation in rebounding and 245th in 3-point defense.

There’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of LSU basketball, not the least of which being the four spectacular recruits coming in for next season. Tremont Waters is expected to be back, as are Skylar Mays and Daryl Edwards. And Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams will be eligible to play after his season on the bench, adding some rim protection to an LSU team that ranked 171st nationally in blocks.

Is Year 2 of the Will Wade era going to see enough improvement for the Tigers to compete for an SEC title? That isn’t yet known. It might be too early to say. But there’s reason to be excited. This era has started off about as well as it could’ve. Now it’s time to see how fast the program can grow.

In happy LSU hoops news

Ben Simmons might not have left the LSU basketball programs on the closest of terms, but he’s representing the Tigers quite well in the NBA. Simmons notched his ninth triple-double of his rookie season on Monday, three of which have come in his past four games.

He didn’t turn the ball over in his most recent triple-double, making his performance Monday the best any NBA rookie has had with regard to passing efficiency. He also joins legendary basketball presence Oscar Robertson as the only rookie to post three triple-doubles in four games, a feat Robertson achieved multiple times.

Ask and ye shall learn

SEC Country’s LSU recruiting guru Sam Spiegelman posted the first edition of his new daily “recruiting question of the day” series on Monday, answering a query about quarterback target Grant Gunnell.

Recruiting news is year round, and it’s natural to have questions. If you want to contribute to Sam’s new series, send him your questions through Twitter at @samspiegs. And keep your eyes peeled weekday afternoons to see if your questions have been picked.

Former Tigers stick together

LSU football legend and 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu signed a new contract with the Houston Texans this week. Plenty of Tigers are proud of Mathieu’s success at the next level, and that truth extends to former Tigers as well. Namely, former coach Les Miles, who had the following to say about Mathieu’s generosity:

Today in made-up holidays

It’s spring!

The ever-changing spring equinox is upon us, this year falling on March 20. So groundhog be darned, spring is sprung. Start cleaning, or whatever it is you do this time of year. Because the seasons require acknowledgement and change. Otherwise, what’s even the point?

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns right here.