That’s not bad for two months’ worth of action on the job at LSU, isn’t it? We had a feeling that Will Wade was going to make an immediate impact on the Tiger basketball program, and that’s what the 34-year old, who racked up a 91-45 record in four years as a head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga and VCU before being hired to replace Johnny Jones in Baton Rouge, has done.
The big news Monday was the most recent addition to the 2017 recruiting class, a point guard from Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Connecticut named Tremont Waters. Waters, who is 5-11 and 160 pounds, racked up some highly impressive numbers as a senior – 25.3 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 steals per game while shooting 87.3 percent from the free throw line. Those were good enough to make him Gatorade’s Player of the Year in boys’ basketball in Connecticut.
“Tremont Waters is a dynamic point guard who will help our program immediately,” said Wade. “His ability to pass and score, along with his defensive tenacity, will help us tremendously as we move ahead toward the 2017-18 campaign.”
He’s a consensus national top 50 recruit. ESPN ranks Waters the No. 32 player in the nation, while Scout.com ranks him No. 41 in the country and 247 Sports also has him at No. 41.
Waters had signed with Georgetown, but asked for and received a release when former coach John Thompson III was fired. He also received offers from, among others, Indiana, Kansas, Duke, Purdue, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky, Miami, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Creighton.
“Having a good contact was important and understanding a coach like Will Wade coming has to prove himself, just like Tremont does,” Ed Waters told Scout.com. “I like the fact that (Wade) is hungry and has something to prove. The conversations have been amazing.”
With Waters’ addition, Wade nailed down what might be the last piece he was looking for to his first LSU team. He’d been open about the need for an upgrade at point guard, where LSU has a considerable shortage of top-level talent. Last year’s starter Skylar Mays showed promise as a freshman, but at 6-4, 200 pounds, Mays is built more like a wing guard and if he can develop his outside shot his skill set might be best suited there. Wade’s first recruiting target upon his arrival at LSU was San Jacinto JC point guard Corey Davis, who is originally from Lafayette, but the coach was too late; Davis committed to Houston just days after Wade’s hiring in Tigertown.
Getting Waters could be an upgrade on Davis, who was rated the No. 13 player in the JC ranks, if for no other reason than that LSU might have Waters for four years rather than two.
If you’re an LSU hoops fan looking to get excited about the future, here’s Waters’ senior season highlight reel…
And here’s a highlight reel from Waters’ participation in the Nike Jordan Brand Classic in April, where he had eight points, two assists and two steals in that all-star game…
Wade inherited a recruiting class with a pair of 6-6 Louisiana wings rated somewhere between No. 75 and 150 by the various recruiting services in Galen Alexander of Lafayette Christian and Natchitoches Central’s Brandon Rachal. To that mix he’s added four players of significant stature – 6-9 post player Mayan Kiir of Victory Rock Academy in Bradenton, Florida, who’s rated a Top 150 player by all of the services (Kiir was a signee of Wade’s at VCU last November, but asked for and received a release when Wade left for LSU), 6-7 forward Jeremy Combs, a senior transfer from North Texas who was an all-Conference USA selection as a sophomore before an ankle injury largely derailed his junior season, and 6-4 guard Daryl Edwards of Northwest Florida Junior College, who’s rated as the No. 23 junior-college prospect in the country, not to mention Waters.
That recruiting effort moved LSU from No. 50, where the Tigers were upon Wade’s hiring, to No. 16 in 247 Sports’ ranking of recruiting classes. Scout.com has LSU as high as No. 14.
That’s an impressive bit of work for LSU’s head coach to have pulled off in a little more than two months after taking over a program flat on its back after a 10-21 season which saw an apocalyptic 2-16 record in SEC play. Wade now has a team which, while it might not quite be ready to win 25 or 26 games like his two teams at VCU managed, could well make its way into a postseason tournament.
And that’s worth getting excited about. We can’t wait to see what Wade’s recruiting will look like this November, when he’s had seven months rather than seven weeks to find and recruit the players he wants. He’ll have at least five scholarships to distribute for next year’s recruiting class.
One more thing: Wade appeared on the John Rothstein college basketball podcast Monday, and he had some interesting things to say about the future of the program – one of them being that while he expects to become competitive on a high level sooner, his timetable for having his program completely in place at LSU is three years.