LSU basketball: Antonio Blakeney to return for sophomore season
BATON ROUGE – LSU guard Antonio Blakeney, a member of the 2016 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team, has announced on Tuesday that he will not submit his name for information on the upcoming NBA Draft and will return to play his sophomore season for the Tigers.
The deadline for official paperwork to be submitted is April 24 and under new draft guidelines this year, Blakeney could have submitted his name, not declared with an agent and withdrawn his name 10 days after the mid-May NBA combine. But Blakeney will continue with his school work at LSU and the remainder of the spring strength and conditioning drills with the LSU basketball staff.
“After consulting with my coaches and with my family, I have decided to return to LSU for my sophomore season,” Blakeney said. “I believe I can further improve my skill set in different areas to become even more effective for my team in the future.
“Although I finished the year strong and posted a solid season, I think it is in my best interest to return and continue to improve as I strive and prepare to be the best I can be. This will also allow me to continue with my schoolwork and continue to move forward on my college degree.”
Blakeney, who was also the SEC Freshman of the Week twice during the season, averaged 12.6 points per game and 3.4 rebounds while starting 24 of the Tigers’ 33 games. He averaged 30.8 minutes per game and made 52 three-pointers. He finished the season making 89-of-119 free throws (74.8%) and 31-of-his-last-32 attempts, including a string of 28 straight.
“We’re excited about Antonio Blakeney’s decision to return for his sophomore season at LSU,” said LSU Head Men’s Basketball Coach Johnny Jones. “His return will automatically give us another prolific scorer and the experience factor that is needed as we continue moving forward for next season. We will work diligently to help him continue to improve this offseason as he strives to be the best.”
Over the last 11 games of the season, the Sarasota, Florida native, who was Mr. Basketball as a senior at Oak Ridge High School, raised his scoring average from 9.5 to his final average of 12.6 points and averaged 18.6 points per game over those final 11 games and 14-plus points was his average in the 18 regular season Southeastern Conference games.
Blakeney had eight games of 20-or-more points and scored 32 at home against Florida on Feb. 27 and 31 against Mississippi State on Feb. 6. He had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the win over McNeese State and hit four treys in a game on four different occasions.