Waters grew up in Alabama and Georgia before becoming a basketball standout at Madison (Ind.) High. After earning all-state honors for Hall of Fame coach Bud Ritter, Waters moved back south and became a standout at Ole Miss, lettering in 1959-61.
The 53rd annual Hall of Fame banquet will be March 26, 2014, in New Castle, Ind.
The latest recognition can be added to an impressive list, including being named to Ole Miss’ Team of the Century and inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame, along with being named an “SEC Legend” in 2012. Waters left Ole Miss ranked second on the school's all-time scoring list (1,384 points), an All-American and three-time first-team All-SEC member.
All these accomplishments came from a kid that wasn’t introduced to basketball until after he moved from Gilbertown to Cedartown, Ga., in middle school.
“I wanted to play football for the legendary (Howard) ‘Doc’ Ayers, but my ninth-grade year we moved to Indiana,” Waters said. “When we got to the high school up there they asked if I had any questions, and I said, ‘Yeah, who’s your football coach?’ He said they didn’t have football.”
Waters was more than content playing basketball for Ritter, though. From Ritter’s coaching style to how the coach handled himself around his players, Waters said he knew by graduation that he wanted to be a coach just like Ritter.
The college years were as good to Waters off the court as they were on. He said when he got to Ole Miss there was a big sign that said, “Welcome to the University of Mississippi, where everyone speaks.”
While Waters was at Ole Miss, the Rebels had two Miss Americas, the football team was ranked among the best in the country and he said the 3,500-person student body was basically one group of friends.
“I was down there in August, and I was talking to a retired president and athletic director – we were all students at the same time – and I said, ‘We went to Ole Miss when it was the absolute best,’” he said. “I look back and it was just an unbelievable time in my life. I thought everyone was having the same thing.”
Following college, Waters was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals before beginning a 45-year coaching career in high school and college basketball, including stops at Georgia State and Delta State.
The former coach currently resides on Weiss Lake, a spot he heard about from a construction worker after Waters’ wife inherited land on the south side of Rome, Ga. Waters said the more they looked at the area in Centre, the more they liked it.
“Our thing was if we built a home on the lake then our kids and grandkids would find a way to come because instead of sitting in the house looking at us, we can watch them out on the lake,” Waters said. “That’s the way it works. That’s why we came to Centre, and I love Centre, Ala.”
SAKS' RECORD-SETTING SEASON: Although Saks fell short in its bid to win its first state football championship, the Wildcats still were able to set records throughout a memorable season.
Saks entered the playoffs ranked third in Class 3A, its best ranking after the regular season since it was No. 1 in 1968. The regular season included the Wildcats going 10-0 for the first time and the postseason featured Saks returning to the state semifinals for the first time since 1996. Along the way, Saks scored 595 points, which beat the old record by more than 200 points.
OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES: When Munford falls in the postseason, there’s a 81 percent chance the Lions won’t score more than 21 points.
Munford’s 35-21 loss to Oneonta in Friday night's Class 4A semifinals marked the end of a successful season, but it continued a trend of the Lions struggling to remain consistent offensively.
Since 1967, Munford has scored 21 or fewer points in 13 of its 16 playoff losses. In the Lions’ 19 playoff wins, they’ve averaged 26.9 points a game.
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star