Last year, LSU had to go all the way to Australia to find the top player in their recruiting class (Ben Simmons.)
This year? The top incoming freshman is Skylar Mays, a Baton Rouge native who — prior to transferring to Findlay Prep for his senior year — played at University Lab School, which is literally on LSU’s campus.
That said, there doesn’t seem to be as much talent coming in to the LSU program this year as in years past -- after signing top 10 recruiting classes in 2013 and 2015, LSU’s 2016 recruiting class is ranked #50 in the country (and 9th in the SEC) by 247 Sports. Mays, a 6’4”, 190-pound combo guard, is rated as a three-star recruit (#139 in the country) by 247 Sports, four stars (#95 nationally) by Rivals, and four stars (#24 point guard) by ESPN.
(Inside baseball non sequitur: when watching a mixtape of a prospect, you can tell as much by what’s not shown as what is shown. These are intended to be a boost for recruiting, so they tend to leave out the parts of a guy’s game that he needs to work on. For instance, when you see a big man’s highlight clip and he’s just blocking shots and dunking, that’s probably the extent of his game. So — you can probably guess that if Mays isn’t taking a single jump shot in his highlight video, it’s probably not too good right now.)
Mays has good size for a guard and pretty good ball skills, but without elite athleticism -- and possibly without a jump shot — it’s not clear how that will immediately translate to the SEC.
How does he fit onto LSU’s roster? LSU does return Jalyn Patterson, who started 15 games — including 11 in SEC play — in 2015-16. But Patterson’s usage over the past couple of years, starting the year coming off the bench before earning more playing time over the course of the season, suggests that Johnny Jones would really like to find someone to replace him. With Antonio Blakeney returning, Mays isn’t going to be playing the two (regardless of whether he can play it or not), but if he can get up to speed quickly he could be a starter by the time conference play rolls around. Whether that’s a good thing or not isn’t clear.