The elephant in Louisiana Tech’s basketball locker room since last March has centered around how the Bulldogs planned to replace Conference USA Player of the Year Speedy Smith.
It’s unlikely to come via one player with a committee being formed instead, but true freshman point guard Derric Jean has quickly thrown his name into the mix.
Jean scored 24 points in Tech’s intrasquad scrimmage Saturday to lead the blue team to a 94-82 win. The Florida native looked effortless at times, gliding to the basket and finishing with his left hand or swishing 3-pointers from the wings.
“Derric had a great day. I think the full-court playing, he’s a guy that can play so hard and not get so tired,” First-year Tech coach Eric Konkol said. “It showed (Saturday). The guy can run all day long. He actually did more today than he’s done in practice, so I was really happy for him.”
Jean, who teamed up with Merrill Holden, Jacobi Boykins, Jy’lan Washington and new Alcorn State transfer Le’Antwan Luckett, helped the blue team shoot a sizzling 58 percent from the field (37-of-64) and 37 percent from the 3-point line (7-of-19).
It’s unclear what Jean’s role will be when the season starts Nov. 13 — Alex Hamilton could start the year at point guard — but Jean has a chance to have a sizeable impact this year after Saturday’s showing.
Boykins scored 23 points, Holden added 18, Luckett scored 15 (10 in the first half) and Washington added 13 points and 12 rebounds in a scrimmaged that featured two 20-minute halves.
Forward Erik McCree led the white team, which shot 49 percent (43-of-65), with 28 points. Qiydar Davis and Alex Hamilton chipped in with 14 points, junior college transfer DeShawn Robinson added 10 points, Dayon Griffin had 9 points and Branden Sheppard scored six points.
“Today was great for us because we haven’t played in an extended period of time like this in a scrimmage format,” Konkol said. “It was a chance to evaluate our conditioning and evaluate a couple different lineups. It was really good to see what guys can do and how competitive they are and some of the things they can do in the open court setting.”
Led by newcomers Jean, Luckett and Washington, who is also a true freshman, the blue team got off to a fast start, building an early 27-12 lead and took a 50-39 lead into the break.
“The blue team played really, really well. They shot a great percentage and I challenged the white team and said we need a better effort,” Konkol said.
Tech played the scrimmage with 11 players, and even with the normal media timeouts used during games, the Bulldogs showed signs of fatigue as the game went on.
One notable absence came from Joniah White, who is out with on-going heart issue that kept him from participating in summer workouts. The sophomore center is expected back soon as he gets his stamina back up. He worked on the side with Tech’s training staff during the scrimmage.