Freshman gives LSU bit of mojo

By: Bob Holt
Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2018
LSU head coach Will Wade hugs LSU guard Tremont Waters (3) after Waters hit a three point shot with .7 seconds left against Texas A&M during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Photo by Associated Press
LSU head coach Will Wade hugs LSU guard Tremont Waters (3) after Waters hit a three point shot with .7 seconds left against Texas A&M during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Tremont Waters was supposed to play for Georgetown this season.

Instead, the 5-11 freshman point guard from New Haven, Conn., is helping make LSU relevant in SEC basketball again under first-year Tigers Coach Will Wade.

UP NEXT

Arkansas men vs. LSU

WHEN 8 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 11-4, 1-2 SEC; LSU 10-4, 1-1

SERIES Arkansas leads 35-28

TELEVISION SEC Network

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Going into LSU's game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Walton Arena, Waters is averaging 17.4 points to rank fourth in the SEC and is the conference leader in assists (6.0) and steals (2.4).

"He's like a little coach out there on the floor," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "It seems like he calms them down. I think it was a tremendous pick-up for Will.

"It seems like he's playing a lot ahead of his years. He's a freshman, but he's playing a like a junior, almost like a senior at times."

Waters signed with Georgetown in November of 2016, but he was released from his national letter of intent after John Thompson III was fired as the Hoyas' coach. After taking a recruiting visit to LSU, Waters decided in June to join the Tigers.

LSU finished 10-21 last season, including 2-16 in the SEC, resulting in the firing of Johnny Jones as coach.

Wade was hired at LSU after leading Virginia Commonwealth to 25-11 and 26-9 records and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

"Our pitch to Tre was, 'We need a point guard,' " Wade told reporters earlier this season. "I told him, 'If you want to do something special, come to a place where you can turn around a program that hasn't been winning.' "

With Waters leading a team that returned four starters, the Tigers (10-4, 1-1 SEC) already have matched their victory total for all of last season and have victories over Michigan in the Maui Invitational, against Houston at home, and on the road over Memphis and Texas A&M.

"He's made a major impact," Wade said of Waters. "Obviously, people knew he was good coming out of high school, but I think we'd all be lying if we said we knew he'd be this good."

Texas A&M found out how good Waters is Saturday when he hit two three-point baskets -- both from about 30 feet -- in the final 12 seconds to lift the Tigers to a 69-68 victory over the Aggies.

Waters caught an inbounds pass with three seconds left, took a couple of dribbles and hit the game-winning three-pointer over two Texas A&M defenders with 0.7 seconds left.

"He's a difference-maker at the point guard position with his control of the game," Aggies Coach Billy Kennedy said. "Really on both ends of the floor he controls the game, the pace of the game and makes everybody else on his team better.

"All you had to do was watch the last 15 seconds of our game against LSU and you saw one player beat us. I can't tell you enough about how good he is."

Waters isn't letting what he did at Texas A&M go to his head.

"I'm on to the next game," he told reporters Monday in Baton Rouge. "I can't keep thinking about this game-winner."

Waters was on the other end of a game-winning play in the Tigers' 80-77 victory over Houston. He blocked a three-point attempt by Corey Davis -- who was 6 of 9 from beyond the arc before his final shot -- with three seconds remaining to help LSU hang on to win.

It was one of two blocked shots for Waters this season. He also had a block to go along with 18 points and 11 rebounds in LSU's 74-71 loss to No. 21 Kentucky last week in the Maravich Assembly Center.

Waters showed in his college debut he'd be a key for the Tigers when he had 27 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals in LSU's 99-59 victory over Alcorn State.

When LSU beat Michigan 77-75, Waters had 21 points, 5 assists and 1 steal. Notre Dame held him to 8 points and 3 assists in beating the Tigers 92-53 in their second game in Maui, but he followed that up with 39 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds in a 94-84 loss to Marquette and was named to the all-tournament team.

Waters is averaging 32.8 minutes and has scored 15 or more points in 10 of 14 games. He is shooting 48.4 percent from the field (78 of 161) and 43.7 percent on three-pointers (38 of 87). He's shooting 82 percent (50 of 61) on free throws.

"If there's a player before the game that you have to talk about -- OK, we've got to make sure we're watching what he's doing and we may have to do some things differently -- that means he has an impact on the game," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said. "Tremont does that.

"At any point he can shoot a deep three. They've given him leeway. He's got room to play."

LSU was picked to finish last in the 14-team SEC in a preseason media poll.

It's hard to imagine the Tigers finishing 14th with Waters, and his game-winning shot at Texas A&M could become a defining moment for their season.

"We needed something good to happen to us and certainly I think that shot can provide a jolt for us, can give us something we can build off of as we move forward," Wade said. "

You need something to happen so your kids can see positive results from all the hard work and everything they put in. I think Tre's shot could maybe do the trick for us."

ADVERTISEMENT

More headlines

Sports on 01/09/2018

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.