It was rainy, dreary, a weekday on campus and not much going on at all at College Park, Md.
But that didn't deter Blair Watson.
The New Jersey sharpshooting junior wing, who was visiting Maryland for the first time in early September, didn't even have her parents with her.
But she was sold at first sight.
"I visited a few weeks before I committed, and I honestly fell in love with it. Campus was beautiful, facilities amazing, coaches....all you could ask for in a coach. It was just an indescribable kinda love," Watson said. "It was rainy, and you know how they say even when it rains you fall in love with something? Well, you know it's the place to be."
The Nutley, N.J., star, whose AAU coach wanted her to sleep on it first, pulled the trigger a few weeks later, firm in her mind that Maryland would be her college destination.
Watson toured the Xfinity Center, met with academic advisors, the staff, players, the trainers. Brenda Frese and staff made a huge first impression. But she was already sold the first few minutes on campus.
"And once I left, well I knew I wanted to commit," Watson added.
Watson, who regularly had triple-doubles as a sophomore frontcourt player at Nutley, had camped at Wake Forest, St. Joe's and Villanova previously, and had Penn State, Pitt and Temple as well as early offers. But with her pledge she shut everything down. She projects as a college wing, and averaged some 20 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and 5 steals per game as a sophomore.
"I am a '3', but at the same time I am kinda like....I am a versatile player definitely," Watson said. "From a town with a lot of shorter girls, they play their biggest players at center. And growing up in sixth and seventh and eighth grade, I was a center. So now taking my game from the post to a wing was kinda difficult, but at the same time something I needed to do for college. So I think my height gives me an advantage over some guards, and my size and speed as well."
And it didn't take long after her commitment for Watson to add to her budding resume. Most consider her a Top 30 junior national prospect and rising.
This month at an AAU tournament in Lancaster, Pa,, well Watson didn't want to talk numbers or stats, but in leading her New Jersey Panthers to a 4-0 mark, Watson went off for 40 points, including 8 treys, in a game on Saturday, and then followed the next day with a 30-point outburst including 6 treys, on Sept. 28.
"Well, I definitely like the three-point game, I love to shoot the ball, it's one of my favorite things to do," Watson said.
She said gaining strength (though she can finish off the bounce) is a key area of work moving forward.
"That's what I will be working on for the next two years," Watson said.
Up next, she's focused on her junior year at Nutley, and bringing her parents down for another campus tour.
Watson has plenty of time to go, but likes the idea of studying sports management at college. Someday she hopes to be a coach.
"I love....before I could never picture myself as a coach, but now I can just see myself following in my coach's footsteps, my coaches now and Coach Frese at Maryland. Maybe at the high school level and then college and maybe even pros one day."
Watson hails from athletic bloodlines, with a cousin that plays soccer at Pitt and another lacrosse at Syracuse.
In her spare time, Watson enjoys both men's and women's college hoops, with, ahem, the Duke and Syracuse men's teams jumping out.
"The men's college game, I love that," Watson said.
Love at First Sight for Sharpshooter Watson
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