Freshman shooting guard Cameron Thomas officially declared for the NBA Draft Thursday, a decision that was long expected.
Thomas came to LSU as a five-star prospect and arguably the most gifted scorer in the 2020 recruiting class. He exceeded even the wildest expectations and would go on to have one of the best scoring seasons in program history.
Thomas led the Tigers in scoring with 23.0 points per game, which was the fourth-highest figure by a first-year player in school history trailing Pete Maravich’s sophomore season in 1967-68 (43.8), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s freshman season in 1988-89 (30.2) and Bob Pettit’s sophomore year in 1951-52 (25.5). When you can be mentioned in the same sentence as three of the four faces on LSU’s Mount Rushmore, you did something right.
Thomas’s 25 points per game was good for fourth in Division I. He also scored the third most points (668) and led the nation in made free throws with 194.
Thomas is a surefire first round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Most outlets have him right on the cusp of being a lottery pick, and at the very worst he’ll go in the top 20.
The departures didn’t stop with Thomas however. Freshman guard Jalen Cook and sophomore forward Aundre Hyatt both reportedly entered their names in the transfer portal. The departures are certainly surprising as both figured to be starters for the 2021-22 season.
Cook played in 20 games this past season and looked to start alongside fellow freshman Eric Gaines in the LSU backcourt next fall. Hyatt played in 24 games and started 15; he also played in all 29 of LSU’s games last season. Hyatt’s best game as a Tiger was a 13-point, 10-rebound effort against St. Bonaventure in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
If Hyatt and Cook do indeed leave the program, Will Wade and his staff will have even more attrition than expected. It was assumed LSU would lose its top-four scorers (Thomas, Trendon Watford, Javonte Smart and Darius Days), and now it appears as though the Tigers will be losing two starters for next year’s team. Wade has said he’s looking to hit the transfer market hard this offseason and the departures of Cook and Hyatt only necessitate that.