Primetime: Scouting Darryl Watkins

TRENTON, NJ - On the AAU circuit, Paterson (NJ) Catholic center Darryl Watkins suffered criticism this past summer for his repeated listless performances. Whether it was playing for his high school team or in the bright lights of Sovereign Bank Arena, Watkins left those who watched him go through the motions this summer scratching their heads a bit.

Against Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill, and with Matt Doherty courtside, Darryl Watkins put on a performance worthy of the top ten rankings he held a little over a year ago, and left little doubt about the impact he could make at the highest level of college basketball.

Though Paterson lost the contest 64-55, Watkins almost single-handedly kept his team in the game. Trailing 35-20 at halftime, Watson erupted in the third quarter, scoring 4 points in the first minute, 6 straight points to cut the Oak Hill lead to 10, and 12 of his team's 18 points for the period as the Cougars surged back into the game.

But for some questionable calls down the stretch and his team's inability to get him the ball at times, Watkins may have led his team to victory. If nothing else, he certainly gave them a chance to win the game, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks while shooting 9-19 from the floor.

The key to Watkins' performance was, to no one's surprise, his intensity, as his physical gifts have never been questioned. He came out of the gates with great fervor, bringing it on both ends of the floor and involving himself in an early shoving match with Oak Hill center Byron Joynes.

If his intensity started early, his finish was just as strong. He scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, and showed aggressiveness on the boards and on defense, best demonstrated by an absolutely sick block on a full-extension Isaiah Swann dunk attempt, especially impressive considering that Swann had already thrown hammering dunks down the throats of two other Cougars.

It's certainly no given that Watkins would accept a scholarship offer from North Carolina, but performances like this one solidify the idea that he might be the answer to the Tar Heels' need at center.


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