Watford Headed to IU For Official Visit

Bloomington - Christian Watford is already signed and ready to deliver for the IU basketball program next season, but he'll just now be making his official visit to Bloomington this weekend. Watford talks about his trip and the impact he wants to make at IU...

Bloomington – Christian Watford is set to get a first-hand look at his future teammates and future surroundings this weekend.

Shortly after playing a huge game on Friday night against Pinson Valley H.S., the 6'7", 215-pound IU signee will make the trip from his home in Birmingham, Ala., to Bloomington for his official visit.

While the talented small forward has already been to IU on a couple of occasions, he's looking forward to being on campus this weekend, seeing IU's match-up with Minnesota and getting a chance to spend time with the Hoosiers' coaching staff. While IU assistant coach Bennie Seltzer has been down to Birmingham on two or three occasions this season to see Watford play, this will be Watford's first chance to see his future team in person.

"It will be good to get a feel for everything, see how it is, get a feel for the fans and watch the team play," Watford said. "I haven't been able to see them play much, so it will be good to have a chance to do that."

IU fans are already looking forward to seeing Watford play once he arrives for good next fall. The versatile forward is having a huge senior season, averaging 24.5 points and 12.6 rebounds while leading Shades Valley to a 17-3 record. He's been asked to do a lot more this season for his Shades Valley squad, and he's been up to the challenge while helping his team rise to No. 2 in the latest Class 6A state rankings.

"I'm rebounding more this year and scoring more, too," said Watford, whose team faces third-ranked Pinson Valley (23-1) on Friday. "My team needs me to do that. Last year we were probably a more talented team, but this year we have a good group of guys and good chemistry."

While he arrives at IU next fall, there's a very good chance that IU Coach Tom Crean will be looking to him to do plenty of the heavy lifting as well. The IU coaching staff sold Watford on the idea of stepping in and being a major contributor from day one, and that's an opportunity that he relishes.

"The program is kind of down right now, and I want to come in and lift it up, be a part of bringing Indiana back to the winning tradition," Watford said. "I'm really excited. Playing college basketball is one of the big things that you dream of, and it's finally going to come true."

Watford is coming in as a key part of Indiana's top-five recruiting class that is expected to turn around the Hoosiers' fortunes quickly. He said he regularly talks with other members of the class such as Bobby Capobianco and Jordan Hulls, and he said they're ready to take on that challenge.

"I think next year we should be able to make progress, turn things around a little bit," Watford said. "After that, the next couple of years we should be really good."

There was a time where IU was a longshot at best to lure Watford from Birmingham to Bloomington, but he said IU's persistence paid off in the end and convinced him that the Hoosier program was the right fit.

"They stayed with me the whole way," Watford said. "There was a time when they were down on my list, not a top contender, but they stayed on me and I really liked that and thank them for that."

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