Ex-Viking Waters enjoys the moment during Blazers workout

TUALATIN, Ore. — Dominic Waters was having his moment.

Surrounded by a collection of television cameras and reporters, Waters smiled wide, offered up an easy laugh and quickly answered every question tossed his way.

As one of six former college basketball stars who worked out Wednesday for the Portland Trail Blazers during the build up to the June 24 NBA Draft, Waters put up just as many shots as his five competitors and poured out an equal amount of sweat.

But while players such as Samardo Samuels (Louisville), Larry Sanders (Virginia Commonwealth) and Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) are expected to be taken in the first two rounds of the draft, Waters said he is hoping for a late second-round selection at best. More likely, though, is an invitation to try out for a spot on the Blazers’ Summer League roster, followed by a series of uphill battles during which Waters will have to prove himself again and again as he attempts to gain entry into the increasingly exclusive NBA.

As a result, Waters ran through his 75-minute workout with full appreciation of what the moment meant.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound guard grew up in Portland, and is a 2005 graduate of Grant High School. During his senior season with the Generals, he was awarded player of the year in the Portland Interscholastic League and was named first team all-state.

After burning two years of collegiate eligibility at Hawaii, Waters then transferred to Portland State. During his senior campaign, he led the Vikings in average scoring (18.6) and assists (4.8), while ranking eighth in the nation in free-throw percentage (90.2).

Throw in an appearance in the 2009 NCAA Tournament with the Vikings, and a friendship with ex-Blazer/ex-Viking Ime Udoka, and Waters was right at home Wednesday, as he ran through drills on black-and-red painted hardwood inside a building less than 15 miles from Portland.

“It’s a big deal,” Waters said at the team’s practice facility. “I’ve got a lot of support around here. Hopefully this gets out, and people see my face and they want to support me. I’m a hometown guy and I love being here. I’d like to follow in the footsteps of Udoka.”

Blazers coach Nate McMillan said Waters “gets into you” defensively and is quick on the offensive end.

But while Waters’ overall game must ascend before he is NBA ready, McMillan acknowledged that Waters’ Portland connection is viewed as a definite plus — Wednesday marked Waters’ second workout with the Blazers.

McMillan even offered Waters words of inspiration before the small, speedy guard took the court: Go for it.

“We like our local guys,” McMillan said. “He’s just a great kid.”

Waters was not the only college standout with Pacific Northwest ties to fulfill a dream Wednesday.

Ex-Gonzaga guard Matt Bouldin, the 2009-10 West Coast Conference player of the year, also took the court.

Bouldin said he was pleased with his performance, but added that he was hoping to shoot better.

Still, simply being able to catch passes and garner tips from McMillan was special to Bouldin, who said having the ability to work one on one with an NBA head coach separated Portland from other destinations on his pre-draft journey.

“I love the Northwest. Going to school up here the last four years was amazing,” Bouldin said. “I’ve been a Blazer fan ever since I got up here.”

The Blazers are scheduled today to work out A.J. Slaughter (guard, Western Kentucky); Donald Sloan (G, Texas A&M); Brian Zoubek (C, Duke); Derrick Caracter (F, UTEP); Keith Gallon (F, Oklahoma) and Scottie Reynolds (G, Villanova).

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