Baker, a Mountaineer basketball star who will be inducted into the Hall on Saturday morning, was likely just as happy when his nephew, Brandon Watkins, committed to the Mountaineer hoops program on Friday evening. Watkins, a 6-10, 215-pound junior center from Grady High School in Atlanta, Ga., is on a visit to the Mountaineer campus this weekend for the dual purpose of checking out the program and attending his uncle's induction, and the trip provided the perfect opportunity for him to commit.
Watkins, due to his uncle, has been known to WVU for some time, but he has also been raising his profile with other schools after an excellent sophomore season and summer AAU play. Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia, Memphis, Miami (Fla.) and Auburn had all come on board with recent offers while Maryland, Georgetown, Kansas, Florida State, Florida and Alabama had all expressed interest or been to watch him compete. With that growing list of suitors, Watkins began thinking more closely about his college destination, and decided that West Virginia was the best place for him to develop. He then cancelled visits with the Terrapins and Hoyas, and is solidly on board with WVU.
Watkins is an athletic center who runs the floor very well and had good jumping ability. Defensively, his shot blocking stands out, but his big wingspan should also make him a good overall defender in college. His offensive game is still developing, but he can score in the lane and has shown the ability to step out to the free throw line and make shots from the 15-foot range. With two full high school seasons to go, he has plenty of time to refine his raw skills.
As a sophomore, Watkins was a second team all-metro Atlanta and a second team Class AAA all-state selection. He averaged 20.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.8 blocked shots per game.
Watkins is the second commitment for West Virginia in the class. Forward Nathan Adrian of Morgantown High School committed to the WVU program last month. Watkins' pledge gives WVU and excellent pair of front court players with different skill sets.