SJ Takeout: Mike Watkins

When Watkins committed to Penn State last summer, the news hardly generated a ripple among recruitniks. The big man possessed size and some potential, but few viewed his decision as a game-changer for the Nittany Lions.

Well, that lack of excitement may have been premature. At this past weekend's Southern Jam Fest, Watkins proved to be one of the most impressive big men in attendance.

He's a 6-8, 220-pound center, which does make him slightly undersized for the high-major level. But given his long arms, huge hands, powerful frame and impressive athleticism, he could become an early standout for PSU.

Watkins isn't about finesse. Competing with Team Philly, he demonstrated the prototypical Brotherly Love style by chopping it up with opponents and playing a rugged game with complete alertness on the task at hand.

I didn't observe much from him as a primary scorer, but he utilizes his quick hops and muscle to finish over the top and through contact. Additionally — and this is a huge bonus — he shot his free throws with prime technique and lofts a very soft ball through the net. That bodes very well for him and the Lions.

Defensively, he blocks some shots although definitely he'd project as more of a force in that regard were he a couple inches taller. As we observed with Jordan Mickey this past season for LSU, however, a 6-8 player still can be a shotblocking force if he's endowed with the athleticism and timing. Asking for that kind of impact of Watkins may be a bit extreme, but there's little question he'll provide a defensive presence for PSU.

On the whole, the interior anchor made a case for himself as a top-100 player in the Class of 2015. He'll need to string together more impressive performances to embed himself in that category, but obviously he's a great tool in the arsenal for Penn State as the Lions assemble their 2015 class.

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