Mar 24, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Dion Waiters (3) shoots over Ohio State Buckeyes forward Evan Ravenel (30) in the first half of the finals in the east region of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
I'm as surprised as you...
I may be off a little bit but Dion Waiters committed to Syracuse when he was a sophomore in high school. He was extremely close friends with Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine (not cousins, though many people say they are) and somehow he stuck with that comittment all the way through high school.
As a freshman, it was a learning experience for Dion to say the least. He loves to use the catchphrase "humble and hungry" but the honest truth is that he's anything but humble. He's cocky, but in a good way. He's not gonna implode the team for the sake of his own stats, but he believes he's the best athlete on the floor at any given time (and this past season, that was usually true).
He ended up having a dust-up with Boeheim on the bench over being pulled out of a game. He had words with the coach and we all made a big deal out of it but the truth is that happens to a lot of young SU players with Boeheim. He grinds them down as freshmen and builds them back up. Waiter considered transferring after his freshman year but stuck with it and came back extremely-determined.
Don't be fooled by the fact that he didn't start one game at Syracuse. That's semantics. The reason Boeheim started Scoop and Brandon Triche and then let Dion be the sixth man was for strategic purposes. As the starters began to tire out, Dion would come in and light up the opposing team's second unit. Waiters then almost always played more minutes than Triche and often Scoop as well.
It's a credit to Dion that he was cool with not being a starter. A guy with that ego easily could have gone the other way. But he kept in check and used it as a motivator all season long. Dion and Syracuse's biggest strength was the transition and both excelled together with it. Conversly, both struggled with the half-court offense and that's going to be a big issue for Dion at the next level.
On defense, don't worry about the whole zone thing. Dion's a great defender. Extremely tenacious, able to create turnovers and use that to power the aforementioned transition.
Dion will bring plenty of swagger with him but it might take a season or two for him to grow into the NBA. Once he does, I expect him to be productive, though I have no expectations that he will measure up to the player he often gets compared to...Dwyane Wade.