Speculation is that one or more teams had promised to draft him, but Waiters said he didn't work out because he was heeding the advice of his high-profile agent, Rob Pelinka.
Among Pelinka's clients are Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and the 76ers' Andre Iguodala. Nobody knows for sure about any team's making promises to Waiters, but he obviously is confident that he didn't need to meet with teams to be drafted - possibly in the top 10.
And Waiters, who said he can be a combo guard and not just a shooting guard, doesn't just talk a good game.
"He goes at people, and he makes you play," said Connecticut center Andre Drummond, a likely fellow lottery selection who played against Waiters in the Big East Conference. "Some guy will sag off, and he will shoot in your face and laugh at you afterward."
Drummond also offered some strong draft analysis concerning Waiters.
"Whatever team chooses him will get a steal, because Dion Waiters is probably one of the sleepers in the draft," Drummond said. "He's an animal."
While growing up, Waiters was an AAU teammate of another lottery-bound player, Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Somerdale, N.J. Both played for a local AAU program, Team Final.
"He's got a swagger about him," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "And he was a great teammate."
Waiters attended four high schools and struggled during his first year at Syracuse, when he averaged just 6.6 points. He and coach Jim Boeheim didn't see eye-to-eye, and Waiters said he considered transferring. But something happened that changed the course of his career.
Waiters rededicated himself, playing three and sometimes four times a day in the summer. He and Boeheim got on the same page. Now . . .
"He's like a father figure to me," Waiters said.
Waiters averaged 12.6 points in 24.1 minutes as a sophomore and was the Big East's sixth man of the year. His ability to get to the basket and master the pick-and-roll has evoked comparisons to Miami Heat all-star Dwyane Wade.
That's why, when asked whether he expected to be a lottery pick after averaging just 6.6 points per game his freshman year at Syracuse, Waiters responded immediately.
"Honestly, I could, because the work I put in after the season, going to the gym three or four times a day, I had this feeling in my mind that I would have a breakout season."
Waiters said that he has worked out leading up to the draft with guard Kyle Lowry of the Houston Rockets, who attended Cardinal Dougherty High and Villanova.
Coinciding with his resurgence after his freshman season, Waiters, who will turn 21 in December, saw his imperfections and worked on them.
"At the end of the day it's growing up, and nobody's perfect," he said. "That is life. You get better and get a chance to mature, and I think that is what I did."
Draft notes. Kidd-Gilchrist said he had workouts with New Orleans, Charlotte, Washington, and Cleveland. . . . Anthony Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist's Kentucky teammate, who is expected to be the top pick, often has been compared to Kevin Garnett in the way he plays defense. "I am honored to be compared to him, because he is a great player who plays hard," Davis said. "I think I kind of play like him, without the trash-talking." . . . Meyers Leonard, the 7-1 center from Illinois who worked out for the 76ers on Tuesday, could have played himself into the lottery. He said he had workouts with 10 teams. "I got good feedback from my workout with the 76ers," he said.
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.