The Tigers enter the year ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and oddsmakers have LSU as the favorites to repeat.
Its Mulkey’s third-year in Baton Rouge and this roster is entirely built in her image now.
The expectation was always that Mulkey would build a championship program at LSU. That’s what she’s done nearly everywhere she’s been. But winning it all in year two still managed to exceed expectations.
This roster is even more talented than it was last year. At SEC media days, Mulkey said she’s still figuring out the rotation.
“Our practices are extremely, extremely intense and competitive as you can imagine. We don’t scrimmage each other much, because it can really, really get intense,” Mulkey said.
Here’s how we see the starting five shaping up in 2023-24.
Point Guard: Hailey Van Lith
Van Lith didn’t play a traditional point guard role at Louisville, operating more from the wing. Mulkey said Van Lith will play multiple positions, but they’re working to get her to a spot where she can be that classic No. 1.
“You don’t just throw a ball out there and tell somebody to be a point guard,” she said. “There are lots of things that have to take place on that court, both offensively and defensively for you to be effective.”
LSU had Alexis Morris running the point last year. She was critical throughout LSU’s title run and this is a position Mulkey places a lot of emphasis on.
For LSU to get its most talented five out there, Van Lith needs to settle into the point guard spot.
If Van Lith ends up in more of a shooting guard role, look for Last-Tear Poa to get action here.
Shooting Guard: Flau'Jae Johnson
Johnson was the SEC’s top freshman last year, winning rookie of the year and making the SEC all-freshman team.
She scored 10 points to go along with seven rebounds in the national title game. Now a sophomore, she’s looking to emerge as one of the top guards in the country.
The hype is building with Johnson being selected as Preseason First-Team All-SEC.
NEW: LSU is picked to win the SEC by the SEC Media.
Angel Reese is named preseason SEC POTY
SEC First Team: Angel Reese, Flau'Jae Johnson, and Hailey Van Lith
Second Team: Aneesah Morrow
— Matthew Brune (@MatthewBrune_) October 17, 2023
Kateri Poole made six starts for LSU last year. She’s back and figures to fit into the rotation again.
Mikaylah Williams, a five-star recruit, could also see some time here.
Forward: Aneesah Morrow
Like Van Lith, Morrow was one of the top transfers in the sport.
She played two years at DePaul and ranked top 10 nationally last year in points and rebounds. Morrow is an All-American who should be able to slide right in to an SEC lineup.
She’s listed as a guard, but the No. 3 spot is flexible.
“I’m still of the belief, give me a post, give me a shooter, give me a point guard and I’ll fill in the other pieces,” Mulkey said.
If Johnson’s slated to be the shooter, then Morrow is one of the pieces filling in the rest.
Forward: Sa'Myah Smith
Mulkey said Sa’Myah Smith was invited to try out for USA Basketball but elected to remain in Baton Rouge.
Mulkey added Smith recognized LaDazhia Williams was gone and wanted to step into that spot.
SA'MYAH SMITH SENT THIS BLOCK 😳 pic.twitter.com/YZzkS4N7Tw
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 12, 2023
Smith made the SEC All-Freshman Team and will get a bigger opportunity this year. She was second on the team in blocks per game despite being just seventh in minutes.
LSU had the benefit of having Williams and Smith last year. There’s not as much proven depth right now, so the Tigers will count on Smith to have a big year.
LSU signed one of the top post players in the country in Aalyah Del Rosario. At 6-foot-6, she brings a height to the floor not many can match. If Mulkey thinks the true freshman is ready, Del Rosario can make an impact this year.
Forward: Angel Reese
There’s not much more to say here.
Reese is one of the best players in the country and likely the best player at her position. She was LSU’s leader last year, both on the court and off. When she went, so did LSU.
She averaged 23 points and 15.4 rebounds per night. You want find many stat lines as impressive as that one. Despite the success last year, Mulkey said Reese isn’t content and is working to improve her mid-range game.
“She’s a competitor. She doesn’t want anyone to think there’s something her game that she’s weak at,” Mulkey said. “Angel will go work one on one every day prior to practice on anything that she’s either read, heard, anything that she can’t do that’s a weakness of hers.”