Nate Watson (O’Connell/Arlington, Va.) is one of the fastest-rising recruits in the East, the 2017 big man almost doubling his offer list following the initial live AAU sessions. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound three-star has recently added verbals from NC State, Kansas, Marquette, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest. Those are in addition to previous offers from Maryland, Miami, WVU, Xavier, Providence, UCF, USC, Georgia Tech, FSU and Georgetown. Watson is also receiving interest from North Carolina, whose coaches have trekked through O’Connell.
“It feels really good that all these schools are reaching out to me,” said Watson, who averaged 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Under Armour-based D.C. Premier during the two April AAU events. “I feel like I’m getting better, just being in the weight room every day and just improving my game. My jump shot, I’m hitting that consistently now, and my athleticism is way better than last year. I’m even jumping like way higher too (laughs).”
Watson said coaches from Maryland, NC State, Kansas, Providence, Marquette, Va Tech, Wake and Clemson, in addition to UNC, have been in watch the center work out. After the Jayhawks’ staff stopped by, they extended an offer that left Watson shocked.
“Kansas was honestly a blessing,” Watson said. “I was really excited about it, and it shows that big-time schools really want me and think I can play at that level. I don’t know much about [Kansas] yet other than what I’ve seen on TV, but I’m getting out there in June or the fall to visit.
“Then I’d love to get a UNC offer too. They’re starting to talk to me now and came to see me, so that would be a big offer too. I’d like to get down [to Chapel Hill, N.C.] to visit.”
But while Watson is excited about the blueblood looks, he’s keeping the programs that have been pressing the hardest for his services at the forefront of his mind. Watson said, in order, Maryland; NC State; Wake Forest; UCF; and Marquette were resonating at this stage.
“I just feel really good about those schools. The coaches at those schools talk to me the most and seem to really want what’s best for me,” Watson said. “I haven’t been to visit any of them yet besides Maryland, but I just feel like those schools want me the most in their systems.”
The Terps’ Mark Turgeon anted up April 7, a verbal Watson was thrilled with. He said the hometown offer was one he’d been waiting for “for a real long time.” Since then, Watson’s developed an even stronger bond with Turgeon and recruiter Bino Ranson, who has been in touch with the local big man for more than a year.
“Maryland’s coaches really like me and really want me there,” Watson said. “They believe I’ll really fit well and can help them a lot. Coach Bino, we have a great relationship and he always tells me the things I need to work on to be a great player. He’s always motivating me and showing the love. And Coach Turgeon says the same things, and then he talks about the big men he’s coached and how I’d be a great fit there.”
Watson went on to mention Maryland’s close proximity to home works in the Terps’ favor. He personally isn’t concerned with a school’s location, but noted playing at a program like UMD would allow his parents to easily see his games.
“Maryland’s really close by and that’s a positive too,” Watson said. “That’s something I’m keeping in mind, having my parents being able to see my games.”
The Upper Marlboro, Md., native was last in College Park, Md., for the Terps’ game against Iowa last year. He plans to return in June for a tour and sitdown with the staff.
“I’ve only been to games at Maryland, so I’m looking forward to seeing the campus and just learning more about the school. I’ll definitely be up there,” Watson said. “I love going to games there, and the fans [in Xfinity Center] are crazy. It’s a great place to play.”
Watson said by the end of the summer he should have a clear idea where he stands with programs. He said he’s thinking about committing before his senior season begins during the winter.