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LSU is primed to be the breakout college basketball team of next season

With Craig Victor on board, LSU keeps stockpiling talent for next season.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

LSU might be the second best team in the SEC this year. This statement is both an indictment on the quality of basketball in football country and also an acknowledgment that, hey, the Tigers have a pretty good squad this season.

LSU is 11-3 after losing to a middling Missouri team in overtime in its conference opener on Thursday night. The conference as a whole is shaping up to be wide open behind the outsized juggernaut in the room that is John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats. The only other ranked team in the conference is Arkansas at No. 23. There are NCAA Tournament bids to grab here, and with Florida seemingly entrenched in a down season, there's an opportunity for a program like LSU.

While that's all nice and good, it's becoming clear to anyone who follows the sport intently that this season of LSU basketball is merely an appetizer for next season. That became even more apparent when Arizona freshman forward Craig Victor announced his transferring to Baton Rouge on Friday.

Victor, a New Orleans native, has played sparingly in a loaded frontcourt for the No. 7 Wildcats this season, but he's still a big-time talent. Victor was rated the No. 37 overall prospect and No. 9 power forward in the class of 2014, according to ESPN. He's a bit undersized at 6'8, 220 pounds, but he's purported to have a complete offensive game and a knack off the glass. He's simply the latest addition to a surging LSU recruiting front that has the program in position to a power player one year from today.

It started when Ben Simmons committed to the Tigers in Oct. of 2013. Simmons is now the No. 1 high school senior in the country and seems to be in position to be the next extraordinary one-and-done talent to take college basketball by storm. It happened first with Kevin Durant and then Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose and then John Wall and Anthony Davis and Andrew Wiggins and now Jahlil Okafor. Simmons is next in that lineage as the type of player who would be good enough to turn pro straight out of high school if not for NBA rules preventing such a thing.

Simmons is that good, or at least he appears to be from afar. A 6'8, 220 pounds and with advanced ball handling and play making ability, Simmons is the type of player born to wear the "point-forward" label. His supporting cast received its first big boost last week when his grassroots teammate Antonio Blakeney announced he joining LSU, too.

Blakeney became something of a symbol during an outrageous recruitment that saw the prized shooting guard de-commit from Louisville 10 days after giving a verbal. There were all sorts of rumors of this being a shoe company war, with Louisville being an adidas school and Blakeney coming from Nike's EYLB league. It probably didn't hurt that LSU is a Nike school, or that Simmons and Blakeney tore up the summer trail together this summer with Florida based outfit Each 1 Teach 1.

In Victor, LSU gets insurance in the front court in case either (or both) of their talented sophomore tandem on this year's team decides to turn pro. Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey were once highly-touted recruits, too, and so far each have justified the hype. Martin is averaging 17.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on 49.4 percent shooting. Mickey is putting up 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game on 51.2 percent shooting while also averaging 3.5 blocks per game.

Both Martin and Mickey could find themselves in the first round mix at the end of this season, particularly if the Tigers make the tournament and they play well in high profile games. If those two come back, watch out. LSU could be a preseason top five team. Either way, pulling in Victor gives LSU a great talent base for next season, one that could even make Kentucky nervous. This season of LSU basketball is good, but next season will be so much better.