LSU guard Cam Thomas declares for NBA draft, two Tigers enter transfer portal

LSU All-SEC first-team freshman guard Cam Thomas, the league's leading scorer in 2020-21, entered the NBA draft Thursday as a projected first-round draft choice.

LSU’s 2020-21 basketball roster was apparently printed on an erase board.

Three more Tigers off this past season’s NCAA tournament team announced they won’t be returning next year, bringing the total to six departures.

As figured, freshman guard Cam Thomas who is projected as a first-round pick in the two-round NBA draft on July 27, announced Thursday his intention to enter the draft and hire an agent.

Also Thursday, Tiger Rag confirmed LSU freshman guard Jalen Cook has entered the transfer portal, something that Tigers’ third-sophomore guard Aundre Hyatt did Wednesday.

With Hyatt’s transfer and Thomas opting for the draft joining the previous draft entry declarations of junior guard Javonte Smart, junior forward Darius Days and sophomore forward Trendon Watford, it means none of LSU’s entire starting five that closed 2020-21 with a loss to Michigan in an NCAA East Region second round game are returning.

Smart, Days and Watford aren’t projected to be drafted. But Thomas, a USA Today Second Team All-American and First Team All-SEC selection who averaged 23 points to lead the SEC as the highest scoring freshman in the nation, is projected as a top 15 pick.

Here’s his declaration announcement on his Twitter account:

“Words can’t express how thankful and proud I am to be in this position and would like to sincerely thank everybody who helped me on this long journey. I appreciate all the love and support from the 757 to Baton Rouge, especially my mom and sister. I also want to thank Coach Wade, the coaching staff and my teammates who have helped me prepare for what’s ahead. It’s been a great ride as a freshman at LSU and to be able to wear purple and gold is an honor that I will never forget.

“Attending LSU has put me in the position to live out my lifelong dream of becoming a professional basketball player at the highest level. With that being said, I am declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft and intend to sign with an agent.”

Cook entered the transfer portal three days after Missouri starting point guard Xavier Pinson announced he was transferring to LSU.

The 6-foot Cook, a former Louisiana Mr. Basketball and a Gatorade State Player of the Year who averaged just more than 29 points in his Walker High junior and senior seasons, spent his only LSU season on the fringe of the Tigers’ eight-man playing rotation.

Cook averaged 3.1 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists playing 7.5 minutes in 20 games. He played in 12 of 18 SEC games, scoring a career-high 11 points in 9 minutes in a loss at Georgia.

The 6-6, 225-pound Hyatt, a Bronx, N.Y. native, was redshirted as a freshman in 2018-19 as he was still rehabbing from an MCL injury to his left knee he sustained high school. Then, prior to the 2019-20 season, he missed a month with a non-specified injury.

This past season, Hyatt seemed to return form once SEC play began. He started in seven SEC games and all five of LSU’s post season games including scoring 8 points and 8 rebounds in the SEC tournament finals vs. Alabama when he narrowly missed tipping in the game-winning shot off a Watford miss.

He started in 15 of the 24 games he played, averaging 15.9 minutes, 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds. Boston College, Texas A&M, Penn State and Pitt have reportedly already contacted Hyatt.

LSU is in the mix for Illinois freshman guard Adam Miller, who entered the transfer portal despite starting all 31 games this past season and averaging 8.3 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 34 percent on 3-pointers.

Miller was a top 35 prospect nationally in the recruiting Class of 2020 and is a former Mr. Basketball of Illinois award winner.

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