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October 20, 2006

An even slimmer Davis ready to lead LSU

Preseason Top 25
Coaches on the hot seat
The College Basketball Wire

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Rivals.com selected the top 25 storylines for the upcoming 2006-07 college basketball season and will be releasing articles daily, counting down from No. 25 to No. 1. The No. 19 storyline focuses on LSU's Glen Davis's and his upcoming junior season.

It was the diet heard and felt 'round the SEC.

LSU's massive junior Glen Davis showed up last season nearly 40 pounds lighter. He went on to become the league's player of the year and carried the Tigers to their first Final Four berth in 20 years. Along the way, Davis won over fans and the media with his charisma, charm and gregarious personality.

Now, comes round two.

"Big Baby" put himself on another strict diet this past offseason and he dropped down to 290 pounds more than 60 pounds lighter than when he arrived on campus.

Davis showed off his slimmer frame at the Nike All-American camp in Indianapolis in July. He played in pick-up games with other counselors, many of whom were top players in college basketball. The 6-foot-8 Davis was more agile, quicker and his conditioning had clearly improved. That was a scary sight for many of the SEC coaches in attendance.

Davis was a dominating force in his bigger frame. He put together 19 double-doubles the most of any player in the big six conferences last season and scored in double figures in all 36 of the Tigers' games. He averaged 18.6 points and a league-high 9.7 rebounds per game.

However, Davis played poorly down the stretch. In LSU's Sweet 16 matchup with Duke, the Baton Rouge native hit just 3-of-12 field goal attempts and scored 14 points. In the Final Four loss, Davis missed 12 of 17 shots from the field, went 4-for-10 from the free-throw line and again finished with 14 points.

Davis later admitted he physically wore down, and that being overweight cost him severely in the NCAA Tournament.

That might end up being a blessing in disguise for the Tigers. Ending with the lackluster performances led Davis to stay in school. He was considered a borderline lottery pick.

Now, the Tigers look like they have a major candidate for the National Player of the Year and another Final Four threat.

The new-and-improved version of Davis remains surrounded by a group of talented teammates, despite the departure of No. 4 draft pick Tyrus Thomas and All-SEC guard Darrel Mitchell.

Versatile small forward Tasmin Mitchell looks poised for a breakthrough season after emerging as one of the SEC's top young players. He averaged 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season.

Former starting point guard Tack Minor is also back and should provide a boost. Minor sat out nearly all of last season with a knee injury and took a medical redshirt.

A pair of transfers will also make big impacts in the backcourt. Shooting guards Dameon Mason and Terry Martin, who were key players at Marquette and Texas Tech, were both top-75 recruits coming out of high school.

There's also a promising replacement for Thomas. Sophomore forward Magnum Rolle backed up Thomas last season, but he has tremendous potential. Long and athletic, Rolle was a former five-star prospect.

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