Clair Watkins, 6-3, makes verbal to VU

Two years and a month since Vanderbilt upset 10th-ranked Duke on November 28, 2007, the ‘Dores have another reason to celebrate. The teams have not met again, but 6-3 David W. Butler High School center Clair Watkins, a former Duke scholarship recipient, turned her back on the Blue Devils to sign a letter of intent with Vandy on December 28, 2009.

The senior from Matthews, N.C., is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game this season for her 14-3 team. She rejected a scholarship after Duke coaches told her in October, a month before commitment letters are signed, they would honor their offer but they did not intend to play her and she would not be happy.

What appeared to be a really sour situation has, in hindsight, been a tremendous boost for this young athlete.

"The most painful part was three days after it happened. It was heartbreaking going through it. Recruiting was great this time around. I took my time and asked the right questions. I wish I'd met with Vanderbilt before. I met some great people. It was so awesome and I feel great about the decision."

The day Clair decided to re-open recruiting, Butler High School Coach Stephanie Butler made some calls and five Division 1 schools phoned in their interest on the same day. "I set up official visits and talked to the coaches to get a feel for what their program was like. It was pretty hectic."

Vanderbilt called early in the re-recruitment process, but not that first day. Clair said the delay was due to a "de-commitment," likely Emily Leer who had made a verbal commitment with Vanderbilt but signed with Villanova. Clair visited the campus in early December and watched the Bowling Green game on December 4.

"I felt really comfortable there. The girls are great and the atmosphere was great," said Clair, who admits she's not fond of big cities and appreciated that the green and cozy campus of Vanderbilt seemed to be far removed from big city life. She adds, "I also like the whole attitude the team has. They're hard working and I really like that. It was different than any other place I visited."

Other schools on her list were Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

Clair, who will play forward next season, will join one of Vanderbilt's tallest programs in recent history. Previously announced 2010 commitments are 6-8 Kayci Ferriss, 6-3 Tori Jarosz, 5-9 Christina Foggie, and 5-5 Jasmine Lister. Commodore freshman Stephanie Holzer, a 6-4 McDonald's All American in 2009, has been out of the lineup all season as she recovers from ankle surgery.

Meanwhile, Clair has business to finish with her current squad. "We've got three losses now so we have to get in the swing of things and work better together on the court."

That's a teamwork mentality that Vanderbilt appreciates - Clair already sounds like a 'Dore.

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