Watford: Two programs at the top?

CINCINNATI, OH - Christian Watford is playing for a new AAU team this week at the adidas Take 5ive Classic in Cincinnati. On Sunday, the 6-8 forward drew attention from several big-time programs, including Louisville. Following his afternoon game, Watford talked about two schools at the top of his list.

Playing with the Atlanta Celtics this week, Christian Watford, along with new teammates Derrick Favors, Terrance Shannon and Trae Golden, packed in impressive audiences of college coaches on the first day of the July evaluation period.

"This is my first time playing with the Celtics and we're still trying to find the chemistry but I think we'll be fine later in the tournament," Watford said after an overtime loss to All Ohio Force in the first round. "I fit in alright. I'm still not used to what they're doing but I'll get used to it and adapt to it."

Rick Pitino spend Sunday tracking Watford, watching both of the 6-8 forward's games. Watford hit several three's in the first game of the day with Pitino, Indiana coach Tom Crean and assistants from Memphis and Kentucky looking on. There's some thought in recruiting circles that Memphis and Louisville might be the teams to beat for Watford's services.

"I'm wide-open with no favorites right now," Watford said. "(Louisville) and (Memphis) are up there – they're at the top. I like both of those schools and they're so much alike."

So what separates the long-time rivals? Not much. Both programs have rich traditions, strong fan support, and former NBA coaches on the bench.

"The only thing that's different is the Big East is a better and tougher conference than C-USA," said Watford. "It's appealing to play on that level but Coach (John) Calipari is a good guy and he can get his players to the next level."

Watford contends that the conference issue likely won't impact his decision-making process that much, though playing for a coach with a track-record for putting players in the NBA will be a big factor. Watford says he'll start to get serious about a decision after the AAU season. He says the plan will be to take several official visits in the fall before selecting a college.

"I won't take any more visits this summer," said Watford, who made an unofficial visit to Louisville last month. "After the AAU season I'm just going to sit down, look at it and see where I want to be. I'm going to take official visits to Memphis, Kentucky, Indiana and Louisville. And Alabama - I'm going to take an official to Alabama, too."

Is that the top five schools on Watford's list right now? "You could say that," Watford said.


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