2019 Draft Workouts: Tremont Waters

June 13, 2019 - LSU guard Tremont Waters speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss at the St. Vincent Center.

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2019 Draft Workouts: Tremont Waters

June 13, 2019 - LSU guard Tremont Waters speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:33

2019 Draft Workouts: Paul Jorgensen

June 13, 2019 - Butler guard Paul Jorgensen speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:11

2019 Draft Workouts: Bruno Fernando

June 13, 2019 - Maryland center Bruno Fernando speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:25

2019 Draft Workouts: Daniel Gafford

June 13, 2019 - Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  02:39

2019 Draft Workouts: Terance Mann

June 13, 2019 - Florida State guard Terance Mann speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  01:31

2019 Draft Workouts: Sandy Cohen III

June 13, 2019 - Wisconsin-Green Bay guard Sandy Cohen III speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  01:22

2019 Draft Workouts: Jaylen Nowell (Second Workout)

June 13, 2019 - Washington guard Jaylen Nowell speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his second pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
Jun 13, 2019  |  01:24

Waters, Jorgensen Hearing Opportunity’s Knock

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

You see all kinds in these NBA pre-draft workouts, particularly when you're a team such as the Pacers with the 18th and 50th picks. There are guys virtually assured of being selected in the first round and landing a life-changing guaranteed contract, more guys fighting for a spot in the second round to get a legitimate shot at making a team, and some guys destined to hear the sad refrain of crickets during the June 20 NBA Draft.

But it all comes together for what Tremont Waters calls "a beautiful process." And if a hard-luck player can view it so optimistically, who is to argue? The workouts help some players launch their NBA careers and inform others their dream of one is about to die — but never without a fair trial and everyone's good wishes, not to mention some cool practice gear.

The Pacers had another six players in to work out on Thursday at St. Vincent Center. Bruno Fernando (Maryland) seems all but certain to be drafted in the first round. Daniel Gafford (Arkansas) is regarded as a late first-round or early second-round pick (read more about Fernando and Gafford in Wheat Hotchkiss' latest story. Jaylen Nowell (Washington), who was brought in for a second look, is expected to go in the second round, as is Terance Mann (Florida State). Sandy Cohen III (Wisconsin-Green Bay) is a borderline second-round pick and Paul Jorgensen (Butler) is not expected to be drafted.

And then there's Waters, who watched Thursday's session from the sideline amid the phalanx of coaches and scouts. He is a second-round candidate whose opportunity to elevate his stock has been limited by injury, and faces an uncertain draft night.

Waters was a four-star recruit out of high school who attended LSU after de-committing from Georgetown. He led the Tigers in scoring each of his two seasons, with averages in the 15-point range, and also led them from a 10-win team the season before he arrived to a 28-win team this past season. His driving layup out of a halfcourt offense eliminated Maryland from the NCAA tournament and sent LSU to the Sweet Sixteen this year.

2019 DRAFT CENTRAL: Complete Coverage at Pacers.com/Draft »

He's undersized at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds and just an average 3-point shooter at this point in his career, but is exceptionally quick and a capable quarterback. He led the SEC in assists and steals last season and was voted co-Defensive Player of the Year, so he at least has a foundation for an NBA career.

He was reported by various sources to be one of the standouts in the testing and scrimmages in the NBA Chicago Combine, but suffered a badly sprained right ankle in the second half of the last of two scrimmages. He had already worked out for Boston and Milwaukee at that point, but hasn't been able to do anything but meet with teams since then.

He's also visited with Charlotte, Washington, and Dallas and has three or four more meetings scheduled. He receives treatment on his ankle at every stop, so he's getting more out of it than conversation. And he's hopeful teams have seen enough already to draw a conclusion.

"They know what I can do," he said of the NBA scouts. "I'm just trying to meet with teams and talk to them and let them see the side of me outside of basketball."

Waters said he would have entered the draft even if he had known the fate of his ankle, although he pauses before answering that one. He also says his decision to do so wasn't influenced by the controversy surrounding LSU's program, which is under NCAA investigation.

He simply thought he was ready.

If so, he still is — regardless of the condition of his ankle, which he estimates to be about 80 percent of normal. His injury won't exactly boost his draft position, and could help make him available to the Pacers with their second-round pick. He can count on the fact he will at least be on somebody's Summer League team and most likely in a training camp next fall.

"If I do get drafted, I'll be more than ecstatic to get into the process with that team. If I don't, I'm not going to stop.

"It was kind of hard watching the workouts, but I can't control it. I've got to sit here and take it all in. It's a beautiful process and I'm here to live it."

Paul Jorgensen

Paul Jorgensen shoots during pre-draft workouts. (Photo Credit: @Pacers)

Jorgensen is learning to love the process as well. For him, that includes learning to tolerate broccoli.

The Pacers sent a driver to pick him up on Butler's campus and take him to St. Vincent Center. Logically, that will be the greatest investment an NBA team ever makes in him. After all, he averaged just 11.7 points as a senior for the Bulldogs and turned 22 last season. Upside is not in his favor.

But he appreciated Thursday's opportunity as much as anyone.

"It was great," he said. "Lot of fun. Can't stop smiling. Just a great time."

What was so fun about it?

"It was just fun competing with high-level guys," he said, smiling. "Playing one-on-one, playing three-on-three, shooting. It was a pressure environment. That's what we live for as competitors; that's what I've been dreaming of, to have an opportunity like this, so I've got to be grateful for it."

Jorgensen, who played two seasons at George Washington before transferring to Butler and sitting out a season, said he thought he played well.

"You have to ask the coaches, but hopefully they thought the same," he said.

Jorgensen is working with coaches to improve his skills and his body. Part of that includes an upgraded diet, which has introduced broccoli to his menu. It's an adjustment and a sacrifice, but it could be worse. He could have a sprained ankle, for example.

"I need to combine it with some seasoning and then I can eat it," Jorgensen said.

The workout with the Pacers was his first. He's hoping to get more, but the primary goal now is to land a spot on a Summer League team. The odds of playing in the NBA seem extraordinarily long for a soon-to-be 23-year-old guard who started barely more than half of his team's games as a senior, but Thursday's opportunity was neither wasted nor unappreciated.

"I've always loved adversity," he said. "I smile at it."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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