The Maryland staff is in search of big men, and on April 7 they offered a local power forward who could become a potential target. Bishop O’Connell's (Arlington, Va.) Nate Watson picked up his eighth offer from the hometown school and couldn’t say enough about the look from head coach Mark Turgeon.
“The Maryland offer was great. It’s been one I’ve been waiting for for a long time now,” said Watson, who previously claimed verbals from Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Va Tech, St. Joe’s, USC, WVU, UCF, USF and Xavier. “That’s a great school up there, I’ve been there a bunch, and it’s a program I grew up with. It’s close to home, and to me it’s my hometown school since that’s where I’m from. So I was honored to get the offer.”
The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder received the verbal directly from Turgeon. Evidently UMD’s headman stopped by an O’Connell practice and extended the offer afterwards.
“It was truly an honor to get an offer from the head coach in person. That meant a lot,” Watson said. “I’ve known Coach Turgeon for awhile, and I think he’s great, but for him to come down here and do this in person, it meant a lot. He likes my game, and he thinks if I keep improving and developing I can have a bright future. [Turgeon] thinks I can really develop into a dominant big at Maryland, and I told him that meant a lot to me. I really feel like I could do well at Maryland.”
If that weren’t enough, Watson’s an Upper Marlboro, Md., native, who grew up in the shadows of College Park, Md. He’s attended numerous Terps games over the years, including at least three last season.
“Oh man, it’s just crazy at Maryland. They have the best fans,” Watson said. “The atmosphere there, it’s unmatched. They’re all into the game, and the students are awesome. I want to play in an atmosphere where it’s loud and the fans are always into it, and Maryland is like that. I’ve been there for a bunch of games, and I just love it there. I’ve grown up with them my whole life. I know the players and the coaches, and I think they're great. Maryland is a top program, so it's great to get an offer from them.”
Of course, Watson’s heard from Maryland well before Turgeon presented the offer. He’s been in touch with his UMD recruiter, Bino Ranson, for well over a year.
“Coach Bino is great. I love that guy,” said Watson, who attends the same school as current UMD guard Melo Trimble did. “He’s a great coach and I like how he tells you your strengths and your weaknesses. He’s very real with you, and that’s what I love about Coach Bino.”
Following the local look, Watson promptly placed UMD at or near the top of his initial leaderboard. The others he’s thinking long and hard about are UCF, USF, WVU, Va Tech (offered April 8), Clemson and Providence.
“Maryland, Providence, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Clemson, USF and UCF are big for me right now,” Watson said. “It’s early, but I really like those schools right now. The coaches from Providence, UCF, USF, Va Tech and Clemson are pushing for me right now. I know those schools really want me.”
Watson has trekked through the likes of UMD, Georgetown, George Mason, St. Joe’s and Providence. This summer, he’ll be heading to Xavier and back to Providence, which he counts as an early standout.
“I think by the end of the summer I’ll have a better idea of where I stand with colleges,” Watson said. “By then I’ll know the schools that really want me, so then I’ll start to narrow things down.”
Watson just recently switched from Nike’s Team Melo to Under Armour’s D.C. Premier. He said he’s excited to show out on the UA circuit this summer.
“I just want to prove I’m a top big man and can really help a college program,” said Watson, who averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks during the latter half of O’Connell’s season this year. “I just want to show I can dominate a game.”