Blakeney leaving LSU for NBA, but Tigers gain a commitment

BATON ROUGE - One of the only bright spots of the 2016-17 LSU basketball team will not be around for 2017-18.

Guard Antonio Blakeney, who averaged 17.2 points a game during the Tigers' 10-21 season that included a 2-16 mark in Southeastern Conference play, announced on Tuesday that he would enter the 2017 NBA Draft after two seasons with LSU.

“First and foremost, I want to thank LSU for affording me the opportunity to represent the school and the men’s basketball program over the past two years," Blakeney said in a statement to the LSU Sports Information office. "It was a privilege to wear the Purple and Gold uniform alongside my teammates. It was an honor to battle with you each and every night. I want to thank my coaches and LSU staff members for providing me with the opportunity to learn on and off the court. I appreciate the fans who took me in as family from the day I committed, which makes this bittersweet. After weeks of discussion, thoughts and prayers, I have decided to take the next step in my basketball career. With that being said, I would like to announce that I’m entering the 2017 NBA Draft.”

Blakeney, who is from Sarasota, Florida, started 54 of 64 games in two seasons. He scored in double figures 25 times last season and did so 45 times over two seasons. He had 14 games this past year of 20 points or more. During SEC play this season, he became the first LSU player since Marcus Thornton in 2008 to post six consecutive games of 20 points or more. He was named to the All-SEC team this season.

In his freshman campaign, Blakeney averaged 12.6 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. He scored in double figures in 14 of the final 18 games.

New LSU coach Will Wade visited with Blakeney shortly after leaving Virginia Commonwealth's head coaching job to come to LSU last month, but he did not expect to keep Blakeney.

Wade is expecting much better news on Wednesday, which is the first day of the spring signing period, or in the coming days. Wade has received a commitment from 6-foot-10 forward Mayan Kiir of Victory Rock Prep In Bradenton, Florida. A native of Sudan, Kiir averaged 13.4 points and 8.2 rebounds last season at Victory Rock. He is considered a top 100 prospect nationally and signed with Wade at VCU last year in the early signing period, but he has received a release.

When Kiir signs, he will join two LSU signees from the early signing period - 6-6 guard Brandon Rachal of Natchitoches Central High and 6-6 forward Galen Alexander of Breaux Bridge High.

Glenn Guilbeau covers LSU sports for the USA Today Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter at @LSUBeatTweet. Coverage of LSU and commentary by Guilbeau supported by Hebert’s Town & Country Automobile Dealer in Shreveport located at 1155 East Bert Kouns Loop. Research your next Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Ram at http://hebertstandc.com/.) 

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