"We talked all the time," Watkins said, "but I didn't tell him where I was going and he did the same. We wanted the decision to be truly ours. Not because one wanted to go where the other was. So coincidentally, it worked out."
Vaughn's decision actually came as a surprise to Watkins.
"I honestly thought he was going to West Virginia," he said.
But as the numerous athletes at Nashville's Pearl-Cohn high school each put on a hat and signed with their respective future programs, the last two to announce ended up being Watkins and Vaughn.
Watkins put on the Illinois hat, selecting the Illini over offers from Vanderbilt and a handful of other in-state D1 programs. Somehow, his announcement surprisingly didn't draw a reaction from Vaughn, who kept a good poker face until it was his time in the spotlight.
"Surprisingly he didn't (react and give it away)," Watkins said. "I know Ke' very well and he's not very good at holding in his emotions, but he kept it together and didn't give it away."
But as Watkins said, the two are very close, almost brothers. And after spending more than the last four years together on the field and on the track, Watkins is excited at the opportunity to continue that bond into college.
"Ke'Shawn and I have been real good friends for about 8 years now, and I consider him my brother," he said. "Having him attend the same university as me is good for both of us. We can push each other not only on the field or in the classroom, but as young men as well."
Much less of a surprise, the two plan to be roommates at Illinois.
And the reception from their friends, family, and the Illinois fanbase has been nothing but positive for the duo. Watkins felt the love and appreciation right away.
"(Everyone) is extremely happy for us," Watkins said. "I've been getting so many tweets and messages and all that other stuff from them. It's been great."