Bloomington – Tom Crean and Kelvin Sampson have something in common.
They both like Birmingham, Ala., small forward Christian Watford.
The 6-7 ½, 215-pounder from Shades Valley H.S. had been offered by Sampson's staff when he was in Bloomington, and Crean has done the same since he took over the Hoosier program. But Crean's efforts aren't a matter of picking up where Sampson left as off as much as simply continuing what he started at Marquette.
Watford's father, Ernest, said Crean's staff had targeted his son when they were in the Big East, and they've reconnected now that they've landed in the Big Ten.
"I'd say within a week we had phone calls from them," Watford said.
There's plenty to like about Scout.com's 41st ranked player in the 2009 class. He led his prep team to a 22-9 record this past season while averaging 22 points and 14 rebounds. He's spending his spring and summer months playing with the Memphis-based M33M Ballers AAU squad, and is also a member of the 2009 adidas National team that features fellow IU targets Lance Stephenson and Stephan Van Treese, among others.
Those numbers and skills haven't gone unnoticed. Watford said his son has been offered by IU, Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Memphis, Ole Miss, Louisville, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida.
While that's some tough recruiting competition, Indiana assistant coach Bennie Seltzer has developed a relationship with the elder Watford would could make the Hoosiers a factor. Seltzer is a native of Birmingham and led Marquette's efforts with Watford.
"(Seltzer) has been my contact guy, I've known him a while, and I trust him with what they've done at Marquette," Watford said. "I believe they're going to bring that same energy to Indiana.
"He and I have had discussions about Christian for the last couple of years, and early on we established a relationship just through him visiting Birmingham. During the time we can talk, we speak often about Christian and how he thinks he has an opportunity to be a really good college basketball player."
One of the things that makes Watford a top recruit is the fact that he's someone who can play a couple of different positions on the floor, a trait that Crean covets.
"Coaches like his upside and his versatility, being able to go inside and out," Watford said. "Defensively he's long and rangy with a big wing span. Coaches see versatility between the 3 and 4 for him. They see a lot of match-up problems with a four trying to guard him because he has the ball handling skills that he can take the four, and if he's matched up against a 3 he can take them down and post them up."
While Seltzer is one of the biggest factors helping the Hoosiers with Watford, that's not the only thing working in their favor. Watford said he and his son have been familiar with the IU program for some time, and there's plenty of things about it that are appealing.
"We followed Indiana basketball for a little while when Mike Davis was there, and also when Coach (Bob) Knight was there as far as their tradition," Watford said. "We like the tradition of Indiana basketball. We've heard from several who have visited there and they told us about the excitement and the energy the crowd has for their team."
That could be important, since Watford said his son would like to play at a school where basketball is reins supreme.
"(IU's crowd) is a big thing because Christian would like to try to go to a predominantly basketball tradition school if he can," Watford said.
The Watfords hope to experience that first hand. While they haven't taken an unofficial visits yet, but a trip to Bloomington appears likely.
"I know we want to take one to Indiana for sure," Watford said.
Watford Gets Hoosiers' Attention, Offer
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