It's a moment that Cam Thomas has worked his whole life for and on Thursday night, the one-year LSU star will get to hear his name called on NBA draft night. His mother, sister and other family will be in attendance for the monumental evening for the Thomas family.
Coach Will Wade will also be in attendance to watch as the first player from his tenure at LSU makes that walk to shake commissioner Adam Silver's hand. It's a spotlight moment for the program but Wade knows this is all about Thomas and celebrating with his family.
"I'm excited for him. At the end of the day, when you bring kids into the program who are as focused and locked in as he is, they tell you they choose you because you're the best chance to go one and done," Wade said. "That's what it's about and so I'm excited for him and his mom and honored they asked me to be a part of it."
Since his freshman season at LSU ended, one of the questions from NBA teams on Thomas was what he could produce at the next level outside of scoring. Leading all freshmen in scoring is no easy feat and the primary reason Thomas will land in the top 30 selections but unlocking more of that playmaker aspect is what Wade is excited to see at the next level.
"I think he's a very good playmaker and he showed it at times, we didn't really ask him to do a whole lot of playmaking," Wade said. "Defensively he was locked in at certain points but some of that's on us. We told him to score and be a little bit of a passive defender so those are areas he'll show more at the next level."
It's an amazing opportunity for Thomas, who's projected to fall anywhere from the late teens to the 20's in Thursday night's draft. For Wade and the program he's building in Baton Rouge, it's another good sign that LSU was able to produce a one and done first round prospect.
Thomas will be the first player under Wade's guidance to be selected in the first round which is a great look on the program. Wade believes it's one more box to check when recruiting elite high school prospects to come play for the Tigers.
"It's another feather in the cap recruiting wise, it's one less thing people can say about us recruiting wise," Wade said. "I think it's a positive no doubt from that aspect."
Outside of Thomas, LSU has guard Javonte Smart and forward Trendon Watford, whose draft prospects are very much up in the air 24 hours out. Both competed in NBA combines and improved their stocks, so much so that Smart already has three, two-way offers on the table.
Smart will obviously sort through the best opportunity for him and as for Watford, there's a chance he could wiggle his way into the back half of the second round. Watford really started to dive head first into being more of a playmaker for the Tigers last season and that showed throughout his combine workouts, showing more versatility in his game.
However, Wade's thought is that once it gets past the 30s, it's a tough decision to decide between wanting to hear your name called on draft night or waiting to pick the best situation for each player.
"I feel like they both have a ton of momentum," Wade said. "There's some tough decisions to make, do you want to hear the phone on draft night or find the best fit for you? They've got some tough decisions to make over the next 24 hours but I think all three of them are going to be on NBA rosters and have a chance to succeed."