By Charlie Perry, @CharlieHperry
Lindy Waters, III (Kiowa/Cherokee) and the Oklahoma State Cowboys laced up their sneakers this past Friday to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. It was a close game that came down to the end but unfortunately the Cowboys would fall just short.
But before each game, Waters, III, takes a moment to gaze down at the bright red tongues of his sneakers. A familiar passage in gold, cursive lettering, stares back at the Oklahoma State freshman. The combination of letters and numbers is a constant reminder of faith, his father and the “will” to press on.
“I remember right before our game against Texas Tech Phil Forte pulled out his phone and read the team the Philippian’s passage,” Waters, III said. “I took him outside the locker room and showed him the tongues of my shoes. He had no idea that the passage was stitched in. We won ten straight after that.”
The Philippian’s passage is all about moving forward to a higher purpose. Forgetting the past and pressing on no matter what obstacles come your way. Waters, III has had his share of hindrances this season as a Cowboy. Against the Kansas Jayhawks, he fought back a concussion on route to a solid all around showing in Lawrence. Waters, III shot his way to Big 12 Newcomer of the Week during the Bedlam Rivalry against the Oklahoma Sooners. Six days later he fractured his foot’s metatarsal in two different places during practice. Even today the passage becomes even more clear as recently Oklahoma State head coach Brad Underwood left Stillwater, Oklahoma to become the new head coach at Illinois after serving only one year as head coach for the Cowboys.
The young shooter is easing back into action for the Cowboys according to his father Lindy Waters Jr. “I know he’s got fresh legs now,” Waters Jr. said. He would know. Waters Jr. has been hanging around the hardwoods for over 35 years.
The six foot six, former NAIA All American for Southern Nazarene University was a beast of a forward in the mid-80s for the small Christian college in Bethany Oklahoma. Waters Jr. rivaled Dennis Rodman who suited up for nearby Southeastern Oklahoma State. He averaged 37 points per game against future NBA Hall of Famers like Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone and Otis Thorpe as a walk on for the Rockets pro-am team. However, Waters Jr’s NBA dream came to an end when he was abruptly cut by the team. “I couldn’t dribble,” Waters Jr. said.
Lindy Waters, III can dribble however and it’s all thanks to his dad. “My first day of practice ever all he had me working on was dribbling,” Waters, III said. “I was dribbling until my back started to hurt.” Waters Jr. started coaching his son in the sixth grade. His system centered around the fundamentals; lock down defense and ball control. Waters worked on the basics for over two years before his dad allowed him to shoot a three pointer.
Eventually Waters Jr. signed on to coach his son’s AAU team the Oklahoma Runners. He started preaching an up and down the court, fasted paced form of play that he learned playing in exclusive Native American tournaments in the Oklahoma area with his older brother and family friend George Beatty. At the age of 16 Waters, Jr. had his first encounter with “Indian ball.” So, what’s “Indian ball?” Think of how the Golden State Warriors play. That’s “Indian ball.”
“Playing in Indian tournaments taught me how to play run and gun basketball like it is today,” Waters Jr. said.
Before the elder reached college at SNU he already had an opportunity to travel the world playing basketball. During the summer of his junior year in high school, He joined a Christians in Action group of basketball players in associated with the university. Over the summer a young Waters, Jr. showcased “Indian ball” on a world stage in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.
Despite Waters Jr’s deep ties to the game of basketball he says his son teaches him new things all the time. Waters Jr. admires Waters III high basketball I.Q. and the man he has become off the court. His son is a loving brother to three sisters; Lindsay, Lauren and Leana. A dedicated son to his mother Lisa and a young man looking to follow in his father’s footsteps by beating the odds and achieving a degree in business. “He surprises me every time I see him play,” Waters Jr. said. “I’m just a fan that’s happy to be there with him.”
The Waters family, along with thousands of others out in Indian Country, will be cheering on their son as they follow his his career. He is only one of a handful of Native American players at the NCAA Division one level.