Stay? Or go?
That’s the question LSU sophomore point guard Tremont Waters must answer in the next two weeks as he contemplates his basketball future.
It’s also the question most LSU fans have been asking since Waters’ name showed up on the list of early entrants for the NBA draft when it was released in late April.
Waters quietly put his name in the draft after a productive first season in which he was selected to the coaches Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team. He was also an All-Louisiana pick by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and was the group’s freshman of the year.
With 13 days to go before the May 30 deadline to withdraw his name from the draft and retain his college eligibility, which he can do because he didn’t hire an agent, Waters will likely use all of the allotted time before making a decision, his father told The Advocate.
“We have until the 30th (of May) to pull out … so you really want to think about it,” Ed Waters said. “You want to make the right decision, and I think (the NBA) gives them the right amount of time to make the right decision.”
The early-entrant process gives college players an opportunity to gauge their prospects by visiting and/or working out for teams and participating in the NBA combine, if invited, in order to make a more informed decision.
If they don’t like what they hear, considering just 60 players will be chosen during the two-round draft on June 21, they have an opportunity to return to school if they haven’t hired representation.
LSU sophomore guard Brandon Rachal is expected to be sidelined for about six weeks after having surgery on his foot Monday.
Waters, who led LSU this season in three key categories with 15.9 points, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game, has made only one visit so far to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“It went well in the sense that that’s what the process is supposed to be about,” Ed Waters said. “That’s the only time (teams) are allowed to talk to these kids, so that’s the beauty of it. How did it go? I wasn’t there, but it’s got to be an amazing experience.”
A late signee last June after Will Wade took the LSU coaching job in March, Tremont Waters was the catalyst for a season in which the Tigers finished 18-15.
Waters’ 198 assists were the second-most in a season for an LSU player and easily erased the school's freshman record of 158 set by Ben Simmons.
At this point, Wade said he doesn’t know what his star point guard might do.
“We’re just supporting him and we’re here for him, certainly, if he wants to come back,” Wade said Wednesday. “But we also understand he’s got an opportunity to chase his dreams, and we’re supporting him that way, too.”
Waters and teammate Brandon Sampson, who also put his name in the draft, were not invited to the combine. Sampson hired an agent, however, and gave up his final year of eligibility.
After his Oklahoma City trip, Tremont Waters returned home and has been working on his game, his father said.
Tremont Waters is going to see what his future holds by testing the NBA waters.
“He’s trying to hone in on the things he needs to hone in on and just get ready for the next season,” Ed Waters said. “That’s pretty much the gist of it — emotionally, mentally, physically — just doing the things he can do to prepare like he prepared before he got to LSU.”
Tremont Waters will likely have to improve his shooting after hitting 41.7 percent from the field and making 35.1 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Finishing in the lane because he sometimes plays too fast and on-ball defense could also be points of emphasis for the NBA scouts.
One thing Waters can’t change is his height. Listed at 5 feet, 11 inches, he’s closer to 5-9 — which means he’ll have to make up for that in other ways at the next level.
One of 286 early entrants, Waters isn’t listed on NBA mocks for this year but is tabbed as the 60th and final pick on a 2019 mock by NBAdraft.net.
He seemingly could improve his draft stock by returning to school to play with a group of newcomers that includes McDonald’s All-American Nazreon Reid, three-time Louisiana Mr. Basketball Ja’Vonte Smart and Emmitt Williams as well as transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams.
Still, Ed Waters was perplexed by the attention his son’s decision to enter the draft has garnered.
“It seems like it’s surprisingly new to people, and it’s not new,” he said. “It’s a simple process … people are making it more than what it needs to be that he put his name in the draft.
“Kids, they’re allowed to do it. It doesn’t mean anything; they’re allowed to do it for several different reasons.”