Bloomington – IU Coach Tom Crean is hoping this weekend marked the first of many trips for the Watford family from Birmingham to Bloomington.
Top-50 Class of 2009 forward Christian Watford was joined by his entire immediate family as well as his uncle for a trip to Bloomington for IU's Elite Camp this weekend. The family used the visit as a chance to find out a lot about the Hoosier program, as well as what it would be like to make additional future trips.
"Bringing the whole family was great to get a feel for the ride, No. 1," said Ernest Watford, Christian's father, during their ride back home. "We also got a feel for what the campus is like, what the coaches are talking about and what IU basketball and its history stands for."
Watford didn't commit during his visit, but his father said that wasn't ever much of a possibility.
"Our mindset wasn't to come and commit or not commit," Ernest said. "We wanted everyone to be able to come and see the area. The camp went great and the visit went great. It was a very positive trip."
While Crean would have loved for Watford to commit during the visit, Ernest said he didn't pressure his son to make the choice while he was in town.
"They didn't put any pressure on us at all," Ernest said. "He said he feels he's the coach for Christian and that Indiana would be great for him. But he didn't try to put any pressure on our family or Christian."
In addition to sitting down with the Indiana staff and talking Sunday, Watford was able to do was sit down with former Hoosier D.J. White – a fellow Alabama product – and talk about the program. Ernest said that made a big impact on his son, as did the time he was able to spend with former IU great Isiah Thomas, who worked the Elite Camp.
"I thought all our conversations with Coach Crean went well this morning," Ernest said. "Having Isiah Thomas there was a big factor and a big positive on our experience. We felt that family, IU connection with the past players as well as the coaching staff."
With the IU unofficial behind him, next on the agenda is to schedule official visits. Ernest said his son is still considering Indiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisville and Memphis, and that they plan to schedule his officials for September and early October and then make a decision.
There's a possibility, though, that the list could be whittled down from five before those visits are scheduled.
"What we're planning on narrowing it down to four or three pretty soon, maybe even before official visits," Ernest said. "If we narrow it down it down three, we'll take three officials. If we narrow it to two, we'll do officials to two. If he feels good about one, and we all feel good about that one, we'll take that one official and make the decision after that."
He said no matter what the number of visits winds up being, another trip will be made to Indiana. Among the things that he still wants to do is be able to sit down with members of the academic counseling staff as well as advisors in his academic area.
But they were able to get a very good feel for Crean, his staff, and the way Christian would be used if he was to join the Hoosiers' 2009 recruiting class.
"(Crean) sees great upside and potential in Christian," Ernest said. "He thinks he can push him to be a highly productive player at the college level and barring any injury the next level. He thinks Christian is a next level type player that can come in and have the work ethic and mindset to get better, he thinks he and his staff are the ones that can help him further his game."
IU Visit Makes Big Impression on Watfords
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