After an outstanding sophomore season at Syracuse that had many analysts talking about him as one of the best guards in the country, Dion Waiters decided the time was right to test his talents and make the jump to the NBA. The Philly native was a beast as a Sixth Man, averaging 12.6 points on nearly 48 percent shooting to help lead the Orange to the Elite 8 this season. Syracuse came up short in their bid for a National Championship, but Waiters’ stock continues to rise. Now as he gets prepared to be drafted into the NBA, Waiters will be giving us the inside scoop on his journey to the draft, how his life is changing and everything in-between…
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I’m in Vegas right now training with Joe Abunassar. I’m just focused on every aspect of my game and really trying to propel my game. I really like pick-n-rolls though. I think at the next level, the NBA is based off pick-n-rolls, and I’m trying to really sharpen that up even more then I already got it. I’m trying to master that because at the next level, that’s what this league is all about… and playing defense of course.
I always had an attitude where I really take basketball serious. I want to be the best at everything, no matter what it is. All my friends could tell you. I don’t care if we are playing cards or arguing about something, I wanna be right. That’s something that’s always been with me.
With this season for Syracuse, I did what I could for the team, and as an individual, I had a good season myself. I just really felt I was ready to go to the NBA. I started talking to my family about it after the season when everything was over, and we felt I was ready to take the next step. Now I’m just getting ready for the season ahead.
It was actually funny how I signed with my agent Rob Pelinka because he was the last person I was going to meet, and I was already exhausted from meeting with everybody. I had gotten overwhelmed. I remember with Rob we had a connection right away. I loved everything they brought to the table and how they presented it. I knew it was the right decision and the smart decision too because now he doesn’t take a lot of players. He’ll probably take one or two and he can mainly focus on you.
It was hard to leave Syracuse though. That’s one of those times where just the love and support that you get, you can’t go anywhere in Syracuse without people recognizing you. Everybody knows you. Everybody knows. It felt good to be loved and knowing that every day or every time you’re on the court, you will find a kid in Syracuse who watches you out there chasing your dream. So like I said, I’m really rich when it comes to the Dome with 30,000 fans. On even a regular game, you’re going to have 25,000 fans. The support is crazy along with everything else. That’s what made my decision harder though. That’s why I took longer to decide what I was going to do.
When I would go to the mall in ‘Cuse and get a pedicure or something, get my feet done, people would be walking by just staring at you, taking pictures. It would be awkward a little bit but at the end of the day, it was all love.
It actually didn’t even snow a lot this year up there. That was so surprising. Last year we got so much snow. But this year, we barely got any. There wasn’t really anyone on the team that couldn’t stand the snow. Coming in, I already knew. I expected it. My freshman year I already expected there to be a lot of snow and for it to be real cold. I think this year we told the freshmen how crazy it gets there, and then it really didn’t get that bad. It was kind of funny.
It feels a little different now that I’m going to the NBA. When you go out, maybe when you’re in the airport, people come up to you and ask you different questions, or yell at you “Hey Dion!” Things like that. It’s just different. It’s a little different. It’s business now. You can’t think of it as being like a regular day.
It was cool going to a Lakers game out here recently. With the arena, I had never been there before so it was nice just being around the atmosphere. I enjoyed every single second of it.
I also held a charity roller skating party back at my old school last Friday where everyone could chill, come out and enjoy themselves and try to give back to the community. It was to benefit my old elementary school, Stanton Elementary, and we’ll donate close to $9,000. Skating is one of my hobbies, so I did it to have everybody come together and just enjoy it and have a good night.
I skated a lot coming up. That’s all we did. Where I’m from, that’s all we really did is play ball and then skate. That’s why I wanted to have a skating party and thought it’d be a nice thing.
Growing up, Friday nights you used to bring all your friends. Friday, and then Saturday was the best night for us. We actually went Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But I don’t really get to go anymore because they closed the skating rink down. They have a skating rink out here where I’m training at in Vegas so there’s been good skating out here sometimes.
I haven’t really talked to teams about my draft status yet. I can’t talk to teams personally myself. The only thing I can focus on is to try to get better every day, and I’ll let my agent take care of those things.
But it doesn’t really matter to me where I play. Whoever picks me at the end of the day, I’ll be happy wherever. I would like some nice weather though. I like nice weather. With Syracuse, you can’t really get much colder than that.
It’d be good if Philly drafted me to play in front of my home crowd. I could rep that and they’d really be able to see me. There’s no place like Philly. I think Philly is a different breed from every other city… just the toughness… I don’t know. Philly is just a different breed. It breeds different types of players. When you’re in Philly, you have to have swag. That’s how we play.
Each week, Dion will be checking back in with everything he’s going through on his journey towards the NBA Draft (June 28) so stick with us…
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