Waters, Jr. makes unlikely return for Pitt State basketball

"It's a miracle that he's back...they weren't sure he would be able to play."

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pitt State’s Dejon Waters, Jr. thought his basketball career was over in early 2020.

“Talking to the doctors, they told me that it was most likely that I wasn’t going to be able to play basketball again,” Waters, Jr. says.

But on Tuesday, Waters, Jr. was back on the court practicing with his teammates – getting ready for the winter season to begin.

“It’s a miracle that he’s back,” says head coach Kim Anderson, “They weren’t sure he would be able to play. It’s great to have him back.”

Waters, Jr. missed the entire 2020-2021 season after having serious hip surgery in April 2020.

“I had to sit out the whole year and just observe everything,” Waters, Jr. says, “It was extremely hard. I used to rehab 4-5 times per week. Sometimes I would push myself too much and it would seem like I would mess up my hip even more. Really, I was just trying to get back. I continued to work all summer. It was a lot of dog days, but I chose to fight through it.”

“He did a really, really great job with his rehab. He did everything he was supposed to do,” Anderson says of Waters, Jr., “We have to be a little careful with him. We give him days off every once in a while, but it’s good to have him back out there.”

Waters, Jr. is going on his third year with the Pitt State program.

Before missing all of last year, he started 22 of 30 games for the Gorillas in the 2019-2020 season. That year he averaged 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and led Pitt State in three-point shooting – hitting 47% from behind the arc.

“He brings experience. He brings a guy who can shoot the ball,” Anderson adds, “He brings a guy I think that other guys look up to, and has maybe a bit of a leadership role.”

It’s been a long, tough road for Waters, Jr. to return for Pitt State.

It was his love for basketball that made him push through it all and get back on the floor to finish his college career on his own terms.

“I never fell out of love with the game,” Waters, Jr. finishes, “Since I was five years old I knew I wanted to be a pro basketball player. For that to be taken away just like that, it was hard for me to give up. I just kept at it, rehabbing every day and putting in the extra work. I thank God that I’m back.”

Pitt State plays exhibition games against Avila (Oct. 29) and Kansas State (Nov. 4) before opening the regular season on November 12th at the Central Region Tipoff Challenge in Kansas City.