LSU brings the SEC’s best offense to Lexington with an average of 85 points per game on the season. The bulk of the scoring comes from four players, all with 13 or more points per game, and if you add their four averages together it comes out to one more point (68) than Kentucky’s entire team scores per game (67). So, those are four players to watch, obviously, plus we’ll throw in one off the bench to get us started because he’s the son of an NBA legend and he’s back in the Tigers’ rotation…
#32 | Shareef O’Neal | Sophomore | Forward | 6-10/225
The oldest of Shaquille O’Neal’s children, Shareef O’Neal followed his dad’s size 23 shoes to play at LSU, where dad was a two-time All-American before terrorizing the NBA. A former UK target out of high school, Shareef O’Neal originally chose to stay at home in L.A. to play for the hometown UCLA Bruins, but transferred to Baton Rouge after a medical redshirt year for open heart surgery and then 13 games played in the 2019-20 season.
O’Neal missed the beginning of SEC play with a right foot injury that sidelined him for several games, but he returned just in time to play 15 minutes off the bench in the loss to Alabama. The 6-10 forward was good for five rebounds in his first game back, but also went 2-for-6 from the foul line in a Shaq-like performance. He’ll see reserve minutes inside again in Lexington.
#24 | Cameron Thomas | Freshman | Guard | 6-4/210
(The SEC’s leading scorer)
A true freshman out of Oak Hill Academy, Cameron Thomas was a five-star talent in the 2020 recruiting class, ranked 25th overall among his peers. Thomas picked the Tigers over UCLA because Will Wade was a good recruiter, he said. Whatever it took on Wade’s end, it was more than worth it because Thomas leads all scorers in the Southeastern Conference at 22 points per game. Thomas opened league play with games of 32, 28 and 26 points, and had 17, 25 and 21 in LSU’s last three. He’s also ranked first in free throw shooting percentage thanks to a stretch of a school record 42 consecutive made free throws.
#2 | Trendon Watford | Sophomore | Forward | 6-9/240
(Christian Watford’s little brother)
Trendon Watford is two spots below Cameron Thomas on the SEC’s leading scorers list with 18 points per game and four games of 20 points or more in league play already. He’s great at getting to the rim and finishing with touch, unlike his older brother who makes one three-pointer and everyone in Indiana dedicates the rest of their lives to commemorating it.
#1 | Javonte Smart | Junior | Point Guard | 6-4/205
(Bossman Fat’s friend from high school, receiver of “strong ass offer”)
Kentucky recruited Javonte Smart out of the 2018 high school class but ultimately decided on Immanuel Quickley instead, which worked out well for both Kentucky and Quickley. Smart stayed home in Baton Rouge to attend LSU and now he’s in his third season in Will Wade’s backcourt with First Team All-SEC by his name in the preseason projections.
Keep a hand up… Smart is LSU’s best three-point shooter at 46.4% (32-for-69).
#4 | Darius Days | Junior | Forward | 6-7/245
Days is LSU’s best rebounder and one of the best in the conference with over eight boards per game. Three of those eight boards are offensive rebounds so go ahead and condition yourself for the frustration when he gets a couple put-back points. Last time we saw Days he had EIGHT offensive rebounds as part of his double-double against the Cats prior to the shutdown of last season. He can score too and averages 13 points per game, better than any one player on Kentucky’s roster.
Good luck, Kentucky.