LSU April 2013This year's version of the LSU Tigers overachieved to some degree. The Tigers finished 19-12 and went 9-9 in a weakened version of the SEC. That was good for ninth place in a season, where not much was expected.

The talent level was down and they had a new coach in Johnny Jones. The only player of note was power forward Johnny O'Bryant III.

With a .500 conference-record and having 19 wins, you would've thought the Tigers would've been a lock for the NIT. They were snubbed and watched the postseason from their dorm rooms, but things won't be so bleak next season.

O'Bryant will be returning for his junior season and Jones has a recruiting class that some rank as high as sixth in the nation. Much will be expected from Jarrell Martin, Tim Quarterman and Jordan Mickey. Add to that the experience of Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer, the Tigers appear to be in good shape.

Also, don't sleep on Jones as a bench boss and don't let the lack of NCAA tournament appearances at North Texas fool you. He had that program on good footing before he left and turned them into a Sun Belt contender. See how good they were without Jones calling the shots form the sideline?

In my opinion, the Tigers could be a dark horse in next year's SEC race. They won't win it. Kentucky and Florida still are heads-and-shoulders above the rest, and you don't know which Missouri team you'll get. Alabama and Tennessee also return a lot, but LSU should be in the mix and be watching for their name to be called on Selection Sunday next year.


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