Reserved center returns from UNC visit

Darryl Watkins returned to his Paterson, N.J. home Monday evening after his official visit to Chapel Hill. <i>Inside Carolina</i>'s Jeff Goodman talked to a number of people close to Watkins for a post-visit update.

Darryl Watkins was living the life. He had the North Carolina private jet pick him up from New Jersey and take him to Chapel Hill. The 7-footer had adoring fans chanting his name while at the Smith Center.

However, according to those close to him, Watkins didn't show any more emotion than usual upon his return from his official visit to UNC on Monday night.

"He said he had a good time," Watkins father, Darryl Watkins Sr., said. "Coach Q [Assistant coach Fred Quartlebaum] and the pilot had to tell me that they were chanting his name, though. Darryl didn't even tell me."

"I know he enjoyed it and he likes them [North Carolina]," the elder Watkins added. "Before he took the trip, I asked him if he was seriously considering them and he told me, `Yes'."

The younger Watkins isn't one to show much emotion or communicate via words.

"The way his mother and I can tell is with the looks in his face and the subtle things he does," Watkins Sr. said. "You're not going to get any big outbursts from him – at least not in public."

"It was a good trip," he added. "Now we have to focus on the SAT for the next couple of weeks and after we get that out of the way, we'll work on picking a school."

Watkins didn't even speak to his mother about the trip in the 24 hours after returning to New Jersey. He landed about 1 a.m. early Tuesday morning, went to school and spent much of the afternoon with his girlfriend.

"I have no idea how the trip went," she said late Tuesday afternoon. "He got in late and I was up early and left before he got up. I have no idea how it went. I want to find out myself."

Jimmy Salmons, his former AAU coach on the Tim Thomas Playaz, couldn't give any further insight into the situation after speaking with his former player.

"As usual, he didn't say anything," Salmons said. "His exact quote was, "Everything was good'. That's just who he is."

Tar Heels coach Matt Doherty and the rest of the staff aren't putting any pressure on Watkins to rush the commitment, partially because Watkins is the lone target left for 2003 that UNC is considering.

"I think it's a great sign that Watkins has played with passion, intensity and desire this year," said expert Dave Telep. "Prior to his senior season he wasn't a guy likely to put up big offensive numbers. Now, he's routinely going out there and getting things done. The light comes on for different guys at different times and I think the progress he's made is very encouraging. From a North Carolina perspective, he's really the only American guy out there that meets their requirements and can help give them minutes inside. He'd be a great pickup."

The good news for Tar Heels fans is that there is a chance that Watkins won't take an official visit to Kentucky. It will depend on whether he can set up a visit without interfering with his academics. Watkins is also still considering Villanova, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Seton Hall.

"Me and his mother want him to [visit UK], but we have to figure it out," Watkins Sr. said. "Right now, we're trying to get him prepped for the SAT. If we can fit it in before school lets out, we may do it."

"If it's going to start interfering with his finals, we can't let him out of school," he added. "Tubby [Smith] came up and they've been involved pretty much since the beginning. It's not like we don't know them."

Watkins will start private tutoring this week in preparation for his next stab at the SAT, which comes in a couple weeks. He is still about 100 points away from qualifying.

"This should make him feel more comfortable taking the test," Watkins Sr. said.


In case you missed it Monday evening, be sure to check out IC's Watkins visit report, with photos.

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