Why LSU basketball needs Darius Days now more than ever

Adam Hunsucker
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

From the moment Darius Days arrived at LSU, he has played the strong but silent type with deftness. The stretch forward with a shooter’s touch has led by example. His actions doing the talking over the past four years.

Days no longer has that luxury. Javante Smart, Cam Thomas and Trendon Watford are gone to the NBA, leaving behind a roster long on freshmen and transfers.

Now more than ever, LSU needs Days to lead from the front.

“This year I’ve had to teach some of the young guys how to be in right position and how to take criticism,” Days said. “We have 17-, 18- and 19-year olds on the team. I’m not used to having too many of those on the team.

“It’s just a learning process becoming a better person and a better leader for those guys.”

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No one was happier to see Days pull his name from the NBA Draft than LSU coach Will Wade. He counseled Days through the process, still hoping he’d return for his senior year. Days has played with 38 different players at LSU, which helps explain why Wade values him so much.

“People forget now we weren’t very good when we got here and he believed in us before there was a whole lot to believe in,” Wade said.  He was a really good high school player and signed with us when we were selling a hope and a dream and prayer really.

“He just knows how I think and what I’m about and he’s able to translate things for the team.”

Darius Days (4) moved back to his natural position of power forward in the offseason. Despite playing center last season, Days averaged 11.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and shot 40 percent from the 3-point line.

Wade leaned on Davis more than ever this offseason. LSU signed a top-15 recruiting class, highlighted by center Efton Reid and guard Brandon Murray from IMG Academy and four transfers. Guard Xavier Pinson (Missouri), center Jerrell Colbert (Houston) and forward Tari Eason (Cincinnati) will make immediate contributions.

Guard Adam Miller (Illinois) tore the ACL in his right knee in October and could miss the season.

“Darius has shown me what it takes to be a leader here and what Coach Wade wants from us, for example being in the gym and just being there for guys when they need you on and off the court,” Pinson said.

Reinforcements in the front court allowed Days to move back to his natural position at forward. Despite playing center last season, Days averaged 11.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and shot 40 percent from the 3-point line.

“I didn’t really mind playing (center) last year because I had to,” Days said. “This year I may play some (center) as well but I really don’t have a problem with that. It really doesn’t matter to me.

“As long as I’m on the court with my teammates and producing, I’ll do whatever coach asked me to do.”

Days was selected first-team All-SEC in the preseason, while Pinson made the second team. LSU finished 19-10 last season and was a shot away from winning the SEC Tournament. Michigan beat the Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

LSU opens the season against Louisiana-Monroe at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

“We’re just tired of playing each other,” Days said. “Some of the guys have been working out since May so they’re antsy. Coach Wade is ready to go, we’re ready to go so it should be an emotional game on Tuesday.”

Adam Hunsucker covers LSU for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at or follow him on Twitter @adam_hunsucker. Enjoy Adam’s work?  Consider a digital subscription for unlimited access