Watford Takes IU Visit, Says He'll Be Back

Bloomington – Elite '09 prospect Christian Watford was in Bloomington over the weekend for the Adidas May Classic as well as an IU unofficial visit, and he says he'll be coming back. See what Watford said about IU and his other potential destinations...

Bloomington – In a pool of more than a thousand players, Christian Watford stood out.

The 6-7 ½, 215-pounder from Birmingham (Ala.) Shades Valley H.S. was in Bloomington over the weekend competing in the Adidas May Classic with the Memphis-based M33M 17-and-under team. While his AAU team didn't emerge as one of the tourney's elite teams, Watford clearly looked like one of the top individuals in attendance.

A long, lean and athletic combo forward, Watford impressed on-lookers with the sort of versatility that has him ranked No. 41 in Scout.com's 2009 player rankings. He said he models his game after NBA star Tracy McGrady, a "post-up guard" who can play with his back to the basket against smaller defenders or face-up and score from the perimeter against post defenders.

One of those interested on-lookers is IU's Tom Crean, who has been after Watford for some time. Current IU assistant and former Marquette aide Bennie Seltzer is a Birmingham native who has known Watford for several years, and Watford said Crean's staff was one of the first to start sending letters to him back in the eighth or ninth grade.

With Crean's recent move to Bloomington, his interest in Watford has intensified. Before the start of the Adidas May Classic Crean spent a good portion of Friday evening with Watford during his unofficial visit and reiterated his interest in adding him to IU's 2009 recruiting class.

"It went well, real good," said Watford, who averaged 22 points and 14 rebounds as a junior at Shades Valley H.S. "I talked to coach, got to talk to (the staff) a little better and know his system."

Watford also spent some time watching film to get a feel for how Crean would use him and how he could help him grow and mature as a player. Crean told him he doesn't necessarily see him as a exclusively a wing or a post, but rather as a "match-up problem" who can fill either role depending on who he's matched up against.

This weekend's tournament provided Watford with a chance to see Bloomington as well and start to familiarize himself with the school. He admits he doesn't know a great deal about program thanks to his Alabama roots, but playing in Assembly Hall provided a glimpse of what it would be like to be a Hoosier.

"The tradition here is great," Watford said. "I would love to play in a place like this."

Watford has been given that opportunity already thanks to IU's scholarship offer, but he also has plenty of others interested. He said Indiana, Memphis, Kentucky and Alabama are among the schools that have shown the most interest, and said Louisville and most recently Texas have been looking at him as well.

He's circled November as the month when he'll make his college decision, but says he's not ready to narrow down his choices or even formulate a top five. But he does have some criteria for eventually whittling things down to a manageable number.

"I want good tradition, and I want the program to develop their players," Watford said. "Academics will be a big part of it, and also coaching."

While Watford departed Bloomington over the weekend, he said he will be back. He said he will eventually take one of his five official visits to IU, and is also looking at making trips to Memphis, Alabama, Kentucky and possibly Texas.

"I'll take an official here, and I'm going to get to know a lot of stuff about Indiana," Watford said.

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