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Kim Mulkey: LSU needs Hailey Van Lith to play both guard positions

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Star transfer Hailey Van Lith is going to be tasked with a number of jobs for LSU basketball this season.

The 22-year-old senior will be playing both guard positions, according to Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey. While Van Lith traditionally has been a shooting guard, she’s also learning to be a point guard, Mulkey told Baton Rouge’s WBRZ.

“I’ve got returning players that played point last year with Alexis Morris,” Mulkey said, noting that it was actually Van Lith who wanted to learn to play the point.

“What Hailey wanted when she came here was for me to teach her the point guard position and for her to be able to do both,” Mulkey said. “Now as the season progresses, if she ends up being the true point guard and that’s where she stays then so be it. But right now I need Hailey to do both. I need her to play the point but I also need her to go back to what she’s been doing on the wing a lot because she’s a natural at that position.”

Of course, the No. 1-ranked Tigers are stacked in both guard slots. Flau’jae Johnson leads the contingent, alongside Last-Tear Poa and Kateri Poole, who are versatile guards in their own right. They also added Aneesah Morrow in the offseason, and are bringing on top prospects in Mikaylah Williams and Angelica Velez.

Still, the flexibility will be beneficial for Van Lith as she moves on to her professional career, which both she and Mulkey know. And at LSU, Van Lith is learning to not take as many shots.

“She’s a kid that shot a lot [at Louisville] because she needed to,” Mulkey said. “I think she’s quickly learning ‘I don’t have to take as many shots when I’m surrounded with these many kids that are around me that can score the ball as well.’”

To Mulkey, there are two types of point guards: those that are game managers and those that score. Van Lith, she says, is one of those that will likely be a scoring point guard.

“I think Hailey, when she is at the point, will be a scoring point guard because you don’t want to take that away from her,” she said. “But teaching her the little things, transition defense being one of them, she’s got to now change her mindset that, ‘I don’t pick up the ball in the back court. I’ve got to be the one back directing traffic like a center fielder.’ Those are the little things with playing point that the average person doesn’t understand.”