Coach Speak: U-M B-Ball Commit Ibi Watson

Pickerington (Ohio) Central coach Eric Krueger talks about U-M basketball commit Ibi Watson's game, his recruiting process, how he compares to Caris LeVert and more.

Michigan basketball landed 2016 SG Ibi Watson out of Pickerington (Ohio) Central earlier this week. It’s the second time in recent memory that John Beilein went to Central and landed a recruit – Caris LeVert was his first. The Michigan Insider’s Josh Newkirk was able to catch up with Central coach Eric Krueger, as he gives his insight on Watson and what brings to the U-M basketball program.

Newkirk:First off, what does Ibi Watson bring to the court physically as a player?

Eric Krueger: “On the court he brings a lot to the table. He’s a great athlete. He can really shoot the ball. He can really score and fill it up in bunches, He’s great in transition. He’s definitely going to get better. He’s long. He’s active. He’s starting to rebound the ball better. He’s kind of an underrated passer. But he is known as a scorer. He can score at all three levels. He can hit the three (pointer), mid-range (jumper) and get to the hole. He can get up and dunk on you. He does a lot of good things.”

Newkirk:Besides his physical gifts, what are some Watson’s other intangibles he brings to the court?

Krueger: “ “He’ kind of a quiet kid at first. He kind of leads by example. He’s really grown as a player. It’ just about getting him to constantly attack. I constantly tell him ‘attack mode, attack mode.’ I just stay on him, because he can pretty much score whenever he wants. So that attack mode and aggressive nature is where he has evolved. He’s still got a little ways to go. But he’s definitely made a lot of strides there.”

Newkirk:From your perspective, what stuck out about Michigan during his recruitment?

Krueger: “We have a good relationship with Michigan with Caris LeVert up there. I think Ibi felt comfortable with Michigan. Indiana did a great job recruiting him. He really liked Indiana. But at the end of the day, his dream school was to play at Michigan when he was younger. I think he was just comfortable and he had been up there a lot for team camps. It’s been a steady process for him to be up there in front Michigan and its staff. I just think he felt comfortable with their coaches. I think Caris being there, he looks up to Caris as well. … I think he felt it would be a good fit at both (Michigan and Indiana). But Michigan was the best place for him to be.”

Newkirk:You coached both Levert and Watson at the high school level. So that being said, how doe they compare? I say that, because some say Watson might be further developed than LeVert was at the same stage in high school.

Krueger: “A lot of similarities as far as their work ethic. Those two kids have always called me to get in the gym. They have incredible work ethic, that’s what sets them apart. Both have that work ethic to really push yourself in the gym. Both are good kids and really respectful, humble and appreciative. Those are both traits that Ibi and Caris both have.

“From a pure basketball standpoint. I think Ibi is a better athlete than Caris. Ibi is a real explosive athlete. Caris probably has a better handle. He’s a little better off the bounce. Ibi can really shoot the ball. Ibi is probably a better shooter at the time, but they are both really good.

“I think Ibi is more along the line of Tim Hardaway Jr, Zak Irvin and Caris, all three of those guys He might even push more towards Hardaway Jr. and Irvin. Caris is more a (SG or PG). Ibi is more of a (SG or SF). Ibi is all of 6-foot-5, and pushing 6-foot-6, He’s good -- he’s really good.

“They are both under the radar. Coach Beilein has a great track record of finding those guys and, honestly, far as getting them to the next level to the NBA. He’s got a proven a evaluation system of what he does in his recruiting and is diligent and takes his time, and makes sure he is 100-percent all in on a certain guy he offers a scholarship to.”


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