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Despite controversy swirling around Will Wade and the LSU program for the better part of a season, it apparently hasn't ended their ability to land elite recruits.
Trendon Watford, the 6-foot-8 McDonald's All-American forward out of Mountain Brook, Alabama, committed to LSU on Monday at his school, choosing the Tigers over Alabama, Indiana, and Memphis.
"It was one of the toughest decisions of my life. Next year I will be attending Louisiana State University," Watford said at a press conference at his school, as he put on a white Tigers baseball cap.
Watford told 247Sports.com he initially planned to commit to LSU in March but when Wade was suspended on March 8 in the wake of an audiotape in which he said he made a "strong-a** offer" for a recruit—believed to be Javonte Smart—Watford held off.
“When all that was going on it was definitely a pause in my recruitment,” he said. “Before that I was going to commit to LSU during the McDonald’s game, and that happened so we postponed. [Wade] still contacted me throughout that time and would tell me what was up. When he got reinstated [on April 14], they got pushed back to the top.”
According to 247sports, Watford is ranked No. 17 nationally and is the No. 4 power forward in the nation.
Watford joins point guard James Bishop in LSU's 2019 class.
Watford said it was close between LSU and Indiana, where his older brother Christian played.
Watford led Mountain Brook to three straight Class 7A state titles and averaged 23.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game during his senior season. He finished his career with 3,567 points, ranking among the top 10 in Alabama history, and set a new state record with 1,909 career rebounds.
LSU had six guys declare for the NBA Draft after its Sweet 16 run. Tremont Waters and Naz Reid are staying in the draft; Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor and Emmitt Williams have yet to announce their decisions; and Smart is returning to school.
“I liked how they used Naz Reid last year,” Watford told 247. “With his numbers, I think I’m more versatile than him and more perimeter-oriented and I think I fit that system to the T, and I think that’s the best place for me.
“I feel like me with my leadership, they have a lot of guys coming back Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams, and Javonte Smart, I feel like it’s a very seasoned team and I can come in and just be the player and person that I am."