LSU coach Will Wade lands 1st commitment since suspension in top forward Trendon Watford
BATON ROUGE — LSU basketball coach Will Wade is really back now.
After being reinstated last month following a suspension for a month, he got back on the saddle Monday. Wade's recruitment of top forward Trendon Watford of Mountain Brook High in Birmingham, Alabama, ended when Watford said on national television he was choosing LSU over Alabama, Kansas, and others, then signed scholarship papers to LSU.
This comes after Wade missed out on two recruiting targets in recent days as Lester Quinones (6-foot-5, 200), the No. 10 shooting guard in the nation out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, chose Memphis over LSU on May 10, and junior college forward Khadim Sy (6-10, 245) picked Ole Miss over LSU on May 13.
"We are very excited to welcome Trendon Watford to our LSU Basketball family," Wade said in a LSU release late Monday afternoon after receiving the papers. "He is a versatile forward who has a unique ability to make plays for the team and himself."
Watford (6-8, 224 pounds) is the No. 16 overall prospect in the nation and No. 4 power forward, according to Rivals.com. He chose LSU over Alabama, where he visited January 4, Memphis, where he visited October 4, and others who offered scholarships, such as Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
He averaged 23.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 steals a game during the 2019 season while leading Mountain Brook to the Class 7A state title for the third straight time.
"He's proven that his game translates to winning at every level. We look forward to playing a role in his continued development," Wade said.
"This was big time," said former LSU coach John Brady, who is a color analyst for basketball on the LSU Radio Network, on Twitter. "Exactly what we needed."
Watford will join previous signees James Bishop of Mount St. Joseph's High in Baltimore, Maryland, and Charles Manning of Riverhead, New York, via Florida Southwest junior college in Fort Myers, Florida. Bishop (6-2, 180) is the No. 28 shooting guard in the nation and No. 114 overall prospect by Rivals.com. Manning (6-5, 180) is not ranked nationally.
Bishop and Manning both signed in the early period last year. Watford is Wade's first good news in recruiting since he was suspended on March 8 after a Yahoo Sports report detailed his potentially illegal recruiting of guard Javonte Smart in the summer of 2017 via FBI wiretap.
Wade was later reinstated on April 14 after meeting with LSU and NCAA officials and agreeing to new terms in his contract that allows LSU to fire Wade and not pay him the rest of his contracted money if he is investigated by the NCAA for the most serious of violations.
Smart has said he is coming back to LSU for his sophomore season after recently considering putting his name in the NBA Draft in June. Junior guards Skylar Mays and Marlon Taylor have also been considering the two-round NBA Draft, but they are each expected to stay at LSU. Freshman forward Emmitt Williams is also considering entering the NBA Draft. His return to LSU is still iffy.
Regardless of their draft entry status, Smart, Mays, Taylor and Williams are not considered draft picks this year. Sophomore guard Tremont Waters is also not considered a draft pick in many projections, but he nevertheless does not plan on returning to LSU.
Freshman forward Naz Reid is the only LSU player that has entered the draft who is definitely expected to be selected, and that is projected to be in the first round.