Catching up with LaShun Watson

A promise from Tubby Smith for a chance to walk-on for the basketball squad at UK made LaShun Watson spurn offers from other SEC schools and tell UK football coach Rich Brooks that he would come to Lexington. Not only is Watson interested in becoming a two-sport star, but he has some interest in giving track and field the old college try as well.

(This is the second in a series of six articles, each a mid-season profile of the 2006 basketball recruiting class for the Kentucky Wildcats.)

Over the last four years, Rich Brooks has made a conscious effort to add height to just about every position on the Kentucky football team. The head coach knew he was a little undersized to most of the teams in the SEC. And one position that he was tired of seeing coming up a bit "short", if you will, was wide receiver.

The 2006 recruiting class is no exception. Mixed in amongst the tall timber is a young man from Greenville, Georgia who has big plans for the University of Kentucky. LaShun Watson is a 6'5", 190-pound receiver, who has raised eyebrows all over the state of Georgia. But it's not just for his football skills.

Yes, Watson is coming to Kentucky on a football scholarship. He was a leader on his team at Greenville, and even though he was injured, grabbed over 30 passes for over 400 yards and 3 TDs. In three years, he had amassed over 110 catches for over 1700 yards and 22 TDs. Watson had scholarship offers from all over the SEC, but he had more basketball offers than football offers.

A promise from Tubby Smith for a chance to walk-on for the basketball squad at UK made him spurn all other offers and tell Brooks he would come to Lexington. "I think it will be great to come up there and play under a great coach, who will help me develop my game," said LaShun. "They'll get me to the next level. In high school, we weren't a passing team. I think I'll fit right in with Coach {Joker} Phillips and have a chance to show my abilities and what I can do."

So, how has his senior year gone? "We are 20-2, right now," said Watson. "Our only two losses have been to our rival. If we win our last regular season game on Thursday, we will play Friday for a chance to meet them again in the regional championship on Saturday." Watson is anxious for another shot at his school's rival. But he says he feels no pressure and he has had a great season, nonetheless. "I am averaging 23 points, twelve rebounds, about five steals, and seven or eight assists per game."

I wondered if he had a favorite between football and basketball, since it was obvious he was having a better season in basketball than he did in football. "I really can't say right now," said the lanky receiver. "I really like both. If pressed, I would have to say I love basketball." But don't cast aside track and field, either. "I am going to try and do a little of that, too, at Kentucky. If I put my mind to it, then I think I can do it."

Basketball is important to Watson and he plans on trying to play for Coach Smith as soon as he can. "I am going to try and play my freshman year, then after that, I'll decide what to do."

Kentucky's struggles on the basketball court have not gone unnoticed in the Watson household. "Every now and then, when I get time, I watch them on TV," said LaShun. "I think Coach Smith will get them in over this summer, and work and work until things are right." And Watson wants to be a part of the equation, sooner or later.

(Next up in part three, an update on Perry Stevenson, the power forward from Louisiana.)

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