LSU guard Cam Thomas expected to be a first-rounder in Thursday’s NBA draft

LSU freshman guard Cam Thomas should become the 16th LSU player to chosen in first round of the two-round NBA draft, which takes place Thursday night at 7 p.m. CDT Thursday in the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

The event will be televised by ESPN and ABC. The two networks will both televise the first round with ESPN covering the second and final round of the draft. Thomas one of 20 players who were invited to attend the draft in person.

Also, LSU guard Javonte Smart and forward Trendon Watford hope to get selected.

Thomas, who earned Collegeinsider.com Freshman All-America honors as well as first team All-SEC consensus citations, averaged 23.0 points per game, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

The freshman from Chesapeake, Virginia came to LSU billed as a “prolific scorer” and lived up to that billing by leading all NCAA D1 freshmen in scoring while posting one of the top freshman seasons in LSU Basketball history. He posted 22 20-point games, the most 20-point games of any LSU player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 and finished with the 13th-highest scoring average by an LSU player in its history (minimum 20 games played).

The 22 games over 20 points for Thomas was the most by a Division I freshman this past season and his 16 games of 25-points per more for the season are the most by an SEC freshman in the one-and-done era (since 2006).

In a post-workout media session with the Warriors a couple of weeks ago, Thomas said of his workouts: “People are really impressed by my range and how well I shoot the ball. The feedback I’ve been getting is that I shoot the ball really well and it’s really different from our percentages, so that’s really the feedback I’ve been getting.”

He was asked about any weaknesses he felt he had and Thomas said: “But I want to show that I’m a great playmaker. I’m an underrated playmaker that I don’t get enough credit for. Also staying locked in on the defensive end. I want to show those few things during this process and tell the teams that I’m really good at those things.”

Baton Rouge native Smart helped LSU to a Southeastern Conference championship and two NCAA appearances in his three years (and certainly would have been 3-for-3 on tournament appearances if not for the pandemic season of 2020). He ended his time at LSU as probably one of the most underrated point guards in the SEC, improving each year he played at LSU.

Smart averaged 16.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals for LSU last season, posting 25 games in double figures, 66 over three-year career. Smart had 11 games this past season with three-or more three-pointers and 12 games (29 in his career) with five or more assists in games.

He was the seventh LSU Tiger to finish his career with at least 1,200 career points, 33 assists and 100 steals.

Watford played two seasons for the Tigers and earned SEC first team honors in 2021. The sophomore from Birmingham, Alabama improved in his second season with the Tigers, averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds to go with 2.9 assists per game. He started 58-of-59 career games over two seasons.

When Thomas is picked, it will mean Tigers’ coach Will Wade have had draft selections each of the last two three drafts after Tremont Waters went to Boston in the second round in 2019 and Skylar Mays to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2020 draft.

It will be the first time the Tigers have had selections in three straight drafts since LSU had a five-year streak from 2005-09 (Brandon Bass-05, Tyrus Thomas-06, Glen Davis-07, Anthony Randolph-08, Marcus Thornton-09).

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