Watford mum on future after NCAA Tournament loss

Christian Watford barely had time to take a seat and start untying his shoes before the question came in the Georgia Dome locker room.

“There’s some talk you may be going to the next level, are you going to be back?” the Indiana junior was asked less than two minutes after returning from the press conference podium.

An affirmative that Watford, who scored a team-high 27 points, would return to Bloomington for his senior season would have quelled speculation.

But that’s not the answer he provided.

“At this point, I’m not really fit to talk about that,” Watford said after the Hoosiers’ 102-90 NCAA Tournament South Regional semifinal loss to Kentucky. “I’m going to leave that where it’s at right now.”

Perhaps the wounds of the loss were too fresh for Watford to address the question. The timing of the inquiry was far from ideal.

Assessing the options

Thanks to a rule change made by the NCAA last May, the chance for players to “test the waters” by entering their name in the NBA Draft without an agent is a thing of the past.

In an effort to “help keep student-athletes focused on academics in the spring term and to give coaches a better idea of their roster for the coming year before the recruiting period is closed” the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is the day before the start of the spring National Letter of Intent signing period.

This year, that date falls on April 10. This leaves a short time period for any potential prospect to gather information on their draft stock.

The NBA does have an undergraduate draft advisory committee who can provide an evaluation and feedback. The deadline to request feedback from the advisory committee is April 3. A response from the committee would be provided by April. 6.

One caveat here is that the NBA’s deadline to enter the draft is April 29, which means that a player can wait until that deadline to declare for the draft. DraftExpress explains:

A college player could still wait until April 29 to enter the NBA draft, as these are two separate deadlines, and there seemingly is no benefit at all to entering his name before, particularly since he will lose his NCAA eligibility if he does not remove it before April 10.

Where Watford stands

Watford, who will turn 21 next month, isn’t listed on any of the three major NBA mock drafts for 2012.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks him as the No. 128 overall prospect and the No. 32 small forward prospect. DraftExpress slots him in as the No. 47 pick in the 2013 draft.

Aran Smith of NBADraft.net told Inside the Hall that Watford isn’t being mentioned by many scouts and figures to go undrafted if he decided to declare.

“His strengths are his size (length) and clutch shooting (college version of Robert Horry),” Smith said. “Weaknesses are slow feet, difficulty fitting into a pro position, defensive lateral quickness and ability to create off the dribble.”

Smith added that Watford could use another season at Indiana to improve his chances of being drafted.

How this decision affects Indiana

Whether or not Watford returns, the Hoosiers figure to be one of the favorites to win the Big Ten next season and a cinch for the preseason top 25.

Jeff Goodman, who covers college basketball for CBSSports.com, believes the Hoosiers are a top 10 team heading into next season if everyone returns.

“[It's] way too early to tell without knowing who else is coming back for the other teams,” Goodman told Inside the Hall. “My best guess at this early stage would be somewhere around 10.”

That projection could change if Watford opts to leave, according to Goodman.

“Watford leaving would certainly hurt Indiana — and probably knock the Hoosiers into the 15-18 range.”

Video: Watford on his future

  • Walt

    What a great season provided us by the Hoosiers. Would really like to see Christian stay at IU his last year. Reasons that are a little selfish, but would like to see him bulk up a bit, and work on that foot speed more. Love to see him shoot and make those 3 pointers, but will have to bulk up to have his own way around the rim. If he has trouble going to rim with the current competetion, imagine what it would look like going up against the Miami Heat’s Lebron etc. Who helped Green and Nix of M.S. get bulked up? Team coaches?

  • Ddobson

    “…but the Senior starts because he is fully capable of being the best pure shooter in the country…” That is exactly why I think Yogi starts at point guard. Jordy would thrive more as a shooter at the 2. If Yogi is as true of a point guard as I have been hearing then he would be a playmaker similar to Kendall Marshall and create opportunities on the offensive end.

  • Ddobson

    “…but the Senior starts because he is fully capable of being the best pure shooter in the country…” That is exactly why I think Yogi starts at point guard. Jordy would thrive more as a shooter at the 2. If Yogi is as true of a point guard as I have been hearing then he would be a playmaker similar to Kendall Marshall and create opportunities on the offensive end.

  • Ddobson

    What were you watching this season? Verdell was one of our worst ball handlers. You know it’s bad when most of the student section is yelling at him to pass it before he commits an open court turnover.

  • Twarrior87

    Jordy isn’t a true PG and Yogi is. Hulls belongs in more of an SG role. If Yogi doesn’t start the season as a starter he will be a starter before seasons end.

  • Amazon10

    Perfect solution!

  • Amazon10

    Perfect solution!

  • John

    Hulls in the NBA?  You must be kidding.  Good college player, but he cannot guard NBA guards, period. Too slow to guard any PGs, and too small to guard SGs.  Not a chance in the world Jordy makes the NBA.  This year made hat clear — he had tons of trouble defending quick, long players.  But he could play in Europe …

  • John

    That’s right, Vic is going to be really special if he develops his range.  And he already has nice form, so no reason he can’t.  He could be All-American, no question about it, and a 1st round pick.  

  • John

    Watford has never once made all-Big 10.  This year he did not lead his team in any statistical category.  His play is so erratic game to game …based on all this, I am just amazed he is even thinking about the NBA.  He is at best a 2nd round pick at present.  Now, if he has a more consistent year and shows he can do it night in, night out, then he should ponder the NBA.  But until he proves that ….    no NBA team wants a guy who is not going to bring it every night.   And if he shoots 43% in college, what will he shoot in the pros?  Probably sub-40%.   What team needs that from a perimeter player? 

  • John

    Watford has never once made all-Big 10.  This year he did not lead his team in any statistical category.  His play is so erratic game to game …based on all this, I am just amazed he is even thinking about the NBA.  He is at best a 2nd round pick at present.  Now, if he has a more consistent year and shows he can do it night in, night out, then he should ponder the NBA.  But until he proves that ….    no NBA team wants a guy who is not going to bring it every night.   And if he shoots 43% in college, what will he shoot in the pros?  Probably sub-40%.   What team needs that from a perimeter player? 

  • John

    Mo can hardly run anymore.  I hope you’re right, but we need to be realistic.

  • John

    what is roth’s situation?

  • plane1972

    No. That just screams that our student section should leave the coaching to the coaches.

    We had a scare against VCU because Verdell was not available to handle the ball. We lost our primary ball handler for a long stretch in the first half of the UK game to foul trouble that Verdell could have really helped fill. He may have turned it over, but that is because he was one of our few options and had the ball in his hands alot. He was not a true PG or SG, but filled the role that was defined for him. We are significantly better with Verdell than without. I think the end of our season bears that out.

  • Kenneth234

    Do you think Steve Kerr gaurded anyone?  No, he was out there for a short stretches for the purpose of shooting the ball, nothing more.  There are clearly defined roles for the majority of NBA players, and this is not my opinion about Hulls drawing scouts.  It was said by the announcers in the Illinois home game, I could be wrong on which game, but it was certainly an ESPN covered game in the Big Ten season.  They said that they had talked to NBA scouts because they were looking specificly at Jordan Hulls because of his ability to shoot.  The NBA is littered with guys that have a clearly defined role.  Often the final roster spots go to guys who are really able to provide one or a few actual skills that their team will need for specific functions.  Most the starters and high minute bench players have to be pretty well rounded offensively as well as be able to gaurd but not the last few spots on the rostrer.   Most of the guys that come off the bench are not excellent shooters, so there is a major value for a player who can come in and knowck down an open deep look.  That is all that I am saying, certainly Jordan does not have the ability to ever be a starter or avg 10 ppg, but he can come in and knock down an open shot for a team when they need a bucket.  He won’t be making the big bucks, but he will be on the roster.

  • Tmartin1587

    Even though next years class is highly rated,  they have to work just as or harder as the team did this year to not end up being a disappointment.   Coach has his work cut out for him again to get the incoming class to mesh with the returners.  CWat would be a huge help in helping with the transition   

  • SteveBrooklyn777

    Bingo!

  • SteveBrooklyn777

    Bingo!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UMEIRNWOS5IKML3TBI6DMEE2GQ Kevin

    All this talk about Hulls not starting will just add fuel to his fire. Seniors step up at IU. He will be no different. He will be a much better player next year… as he has improved remarkably each year. Make no mistake, this will be His team. Hulls will be the leader, and just like in HS will lead us to a championship (possibly an undefeated championship). Yogi is a great player, but he is a big fish is a small pond, … lots to learn (and Hulls will teach him). Hulls defensive limitations don’t look so bad when the TEAM plays team defense (and they will). Hulls will avg 15/game with 6 assists/game he is too tough a player to be on the bench much at all. Scholly? Hulls will have graduated in 3 years (4.0gpa), does that mean he can get academic for masters? I don’t know. The future looks bright…. I personally think the Hulls story fits IU to a T. Too small, too slow, too non-athletic, yet he is a winner.

  • Chris Brown1987

     Yogi starts

  • DJ5

    There is no downside to CWat declaring. He can only do it once, gets his name on the radar, and gets a lot of opinions on his game. Worse case scenario is that they tell you that you stink and you go back to school. DE and Jordy could declare without an agent if they want. What’s the harm?

  • DJ5

    There is no downside to CWat declaring. He can only do it once, gets his name on the radar, and gets a lot of opinions on his game. Worse case scenario is that they tell you that you stink and you go back to school. DE and Jordy could declare without an agent if they want. What’s the harm?

  • IULEW

    It is going to be so nice to have depth, depth, depth next year.
    PG/SG – Kevin Ferrell        SG/SF – Will Sheehey
                  Jordan Hulls                       Ron Patterson
                  Maurice Creek                    Remy Abell
                  Victor Oladipo                     Austin Etherington
                                                             Jeremy Hollowell

    PF       – Derek Elston              C   –  Cody Zeller
                  Chrisian Watford                 Peter Jurkin
                  Hanner Perea
                                                     
    My Starters at start of year:  Jordan Hulls PG, VictorOladipo SG,
                                                  Will Sheehey SF, Christian Watford PF, Cody Zeller C.

    2nd Five                                Kevin Ferrell PG, Maurice Creek SG,
                                                  Jeremy Hollowell SF, Derek Elston PF, Peter Jerkin C

    3rd Five                                 Remy Abel PG,  Ron Patterson SG,
                                                  Austin Etherington SF,  Hanner Perea PF. ???????? C

    If Creek is healed and back 100% I would eventually see a starting Five consisting of:
                                                 
                                                  Kevin Ferrel PG, Maurcie Creek SG,
                                                  Victor Oladipo SF, Christian Watford PF, Cody Zeller C
     
    2nd Five                               Jordan Hulls PG,  Will Sheehey SG, ‘
                                                 Remy Abel SF,   Hanner Perrea PF,
                                                 Peter Jerkin C

     Austin Etherington SF, Jeremy Hollowell SF, Ron Patterson SG, Derek Elston PF would have to work themselves into one of these units.

    I would keep substituting these units and keep running. Become the Hurri’n Hoosier’s again.

    Tom Crean will now have options to match up with teams with different sizes and and styles.
    Recruiting wise we still could use some size and girth at Center and Power Forward and a good backup point guard after next year.

  • tolly1

    Verdell was point this year and hulls started. He will take role as #2 guard but will still be leader of this team. Steve Alford was shooting guard his senior year and was an awesome floor leader. People always assume the point guard has to be your floor general. Simply not so. There will be a lot of minutes shared next year, the pace will be crazy fast. Jordan shines in this style of game as well as Cody, Vic,  and Sheehey and from what Ive seen on videos so to will the incoming Freshman.  Im pretty sure with the pace we will be playing there will be well deserved and needed breaks for all who play.

  • Petefaggen

    No one likes unsolicited advice, but I think C-Wat could be making a big mistake if he leaves. If I had a voice, I’d tell him to get his degree. He has to be close. He should return to play on what could be a Final Four team. The NBA is all about potential, market, upside, yada yada. I think C-Wat has some game that would translate to the League, but the question marks are big, such as defensive intensity night in and night out, his size, what position would he play? Small Forward, Power Forward? He has the shot which is a weapon, but C-Wat should finish what he helped start!! Hang a banner and then follow his dream in the NBA.

  • HoosierBoy1976

     dont forget the possibility of roth in that bunch…lets get banner 6 baybee

  • HoosierBoy1976

     that rule doesnt exist anymore

  • Kenneth234

    A couple of names come to my mind when thinking about players leaving early from Indiana; Jarod Jefferies and Kirk Haston.  Haston may have been the piece that would have given us the edge over Maryland in that Championship game.  He could have stretched the floor and brought one of their bigs out of the paint for Jefferies to do his work driving the lane. 

    As far as Jefferies goes (and I know he has had a long career in the NBA already but he has at best been a role player), I think if he would have stayed it would have taken a lot of pressure off of Bracie Wright and the group of freshmen who came in with him.  Allowing Bracie to be the second option would have done wonders for that team, I believe. 

  • Kenneth234

    A couple of names come to my mind when thinking about players leaving early from Indiana; Jarod Jefferies and Kirk Haston.  Haston may have been the piece that would have given us the edge over Maryland in that Championship game.  He could have stretched the floor and brought one of their bigs out of the paint for Jefferies to do his work driving the lane. 

    As far as Jefferies goes (and I know he has had a long career in the NBA already but he has at best been a role player), I think if he would have stayed it would have taken a lot of pressure off of Bracie Wright and the group of freshmen who came in with him.  Allowing Bracie to be the second option would have done wonders for that team, I believe. 

  • Kenneth234

    Considering Creek’s injury history, I would suspect that he would be more of a SF at 6’5″.  He seems to have added a little weight as well, so I would expect him to be able to defend that position better than the 2. 

  • plane1972

    I have to agree with you here, E-ville. I know Crean would probably get a pass on this considering the difficulty of the task he took on the last few years, but I think it reflects poorly on his ability to manage the scholarship situation if he has to ask one of his STARTERS to pay his own way.

    There is no shame in it from my perspective, but it could be easy fodder for negative recruiting against IU. “Jaquan, are you sure you want to go IU? Well, I sure hope for your sake there is a scholarship promised to you for all four years,” said Thad Matta.

  • plane1972

    I have to agree with you here, E-ville. I know Crean would probably get a pass on this considering the difficulty of the task he took on the last few years, but I think it reflects poorly on his ability to manage the scholarship situation if he has to ask one of his STARTERS to pay his own way.

    There is no shame in it from my perspective, but it could be easy fodder for negative recruiting against IU. “Jaquan, are you sure you want to go IU? Well, I sure hope for your sake there is a scholarship promised to you for all four years,” said Thad Matta.

  • plane1972

    Bracey as a THIRD option would have done wonders for me. I can tell you that.  :>)

  • Hoover’sNotebook

    Indeed son, its not like the federal government.  It’s crooked to the core.  For you fledgling views of the world…the FBI, State Dept, FAA and others don’t promote on tenure.  That career model exists at your alma mater.  FI

  • marcusgresham

    Hollowell will start before Parea, I believe.

  • marcusgresham

    It would be nice if it worked that way but, as far as I can tell, NBA GMs are completely disinterested in what a player has accomplished.  They’d prefer to take a young guy with “a high ceiling” and let him grow mold at the end of the bench for three years over drafting a graduating senior who may be more ready to play.

    I swear I think I could be an NBA general manager.  Give me the guy in the draft who finished his career. I’ll take that other guy as a free agent in three years when he’s ready to play (because he’s probably not going to stay with the perpetual doormat that drafted him anyway—that’s why the same five teams are always in the first 10 picks of the NBA draft.)

  • marcusgresham

    I agree with you, but (I’m just guessing on this one, but based on Watford’s family being regulars in Assembly Hall despite living Alabama,) I’m not sure that he’s in as bad a financial situation as a lot of kids who go pro.

  • marcusgresham

    All I know is, based on the last month or so of the season, if he does come back I don’t want to be the poor SOB that has to guard him because he played with as much focus and determination as anyone I’ve seen in a long time.

    Not to mention, IU becomes one of the few teams (and I can’t even think of who else would be on the list,) with two potential all-Americans in the frontcourt.

  • marcusgresham

    Kentucky is in line to get Shabazz Muhammad–6’6 swingman ranked #1 by Rivals, Nerlens Noel–a 6’10” shot-blocker ranked #3.

    They already have commitments from Archie Goodwin–6’4″ shooting guard #2, Willie Cauley–7′ center, #6, and Alex Poythress–6’8″ PF, #8.  Don’t expect that step back to be very far.

  • Brianvandyke39

    I think the starting lineup will depend on who the other team is. If they are quicker then you will see Yogi in the starting lineup otherwise you will see Hulls.

  • DJ5

    Not entirely true. If you “seek advice” you must return by April 10 to stay eligible. But Wat can stay “mum” until April 29th if he wants and declare then. He can have his people gather information until then. Many agents have recommended that prospective early entries stay mum until late April, as there is no advantage to saying anything now.

  • PocketHoosier

    I believe that by conference play, Hulls and Ferrell will swap out in the starting lineup based on matchups. If Creek can stay healthy, I feel he will hold the starting spot most of the season and will substitute with Oladipo and Hulls. Hopefully, Jurkin will be developed enough that he’ll be able to fill in for Cody in foul trouble and if he’s winded. I think Sheehey will get major minutes and will swap out with Oladipo in the starting lineup throughout the year.

    Look at the lineups, including my starting:
    Hulls, Creek, Oladipo, Watford, Zeller
    Hulls/Ferrell, Creek/Hulls,Oladipo/Sheehey/Hollowell,Watford/Perea, Zeller/Perea/Jurkin

    I can definitely see the Indiana Elite forming up a lineup that will see floor time.
    Ferrell, Creek, Hollowell, Perea, Zeller

    we could even field a fairly competitive(but not tourney caliber) Frosh squad.
    Ferrell, Patterson, Hollowell,Perea, Jurkin

    I see Patterson as being the odd man out and Hollowell could easily be pushed out for playing time with so many quality guards needing to be on the floor.

    Hulls, Creek, Oladipo, Watford, and Zeller will be the starting 5 for the 2012-13 season opener. The starting squad come tourney time might look quite a bit different.

  • PocketHoosier

    I believe that by conference play, Hulls and Ferrell will swap out in the starting lineup based on matchups. If Creek can stay healthy, I feel he will hold the starting spot most of the season and will substitute with Oladipo and Hulls. Hopefully, Jurkin will be developed enough that he’ll be able to fill in for Cody in foul trouble and if he’s winded. I think Sheehey will get major minutes and will swap out with Oladipo in the starting lineup throughout the year.

    Look at the lineups, including my starting:
    Hulls, Creek, Oladipo, Watford, Zeller
    Hulls/Ferrell, Creek/Hulls,Oladipo/Sheehey/Hollowell,Watford/Perea, Zeller/Perea/Jurkin

    I can definitely see the Indiana Elite forming up a lineup that will see floor time.
    Ferrell, Creek, Hollowell, Perea, Zeller

    we could even field a fairly competitive(but not tourney caliber) Frosh squad.
    Ferrell, Patterson, Hollowell,Perea, Jurkin

    I see Patterson as being the odd man out and Hollowell could easily be pushed out for playing time with so many quality guards needing to be on the floor.

    Hulls, Creek, Oladipo, Watford, and Zeller will be the starting 5 for the 2012-13 season opener. The starting squad come tourney time might look quite a bit different.

  • INUnivHoosier

    The thing about analogies is, they don’t have to be true. The goal is to convey a point. Lighten up, J Edgar.

  • James Powers

    Watford still has a long way to go on the offensive side in regards to establishing a constant scoring presence. If you have watched him play this year he has had some below average performaces in regards to scoring and being able to dominate the opposing team’s player close to the basket.He has also had some great scoring performances. He still scares me when he’s handling the basketball for more than seven seconds. As we know defense is not the primary concern in the NBA. If we were to consider his defensive side right now he is too slow on his feet in regards to what I consider fronting an opposing player. I lost track of the number of times this year someone blew around him on their way to scoring a bucket.I think he has a greater chance to be drafted by the NBA after improving his foot speed, gaining more strength, and improving his average score on a constant basis. So Christian, stay in college,enjoy the ride,get your degree, and work hard on your game. You will never regret it and God Bless!

    A IU Basketball fan for fifty-seven years and still counting.

  • Lacey Mehling

    With Yogi running the point, Hulls can be the 2 guard, where he would get more open looks. Yogi drives the ball and dishes it back out to Hulls for the open 3. Watford and Zeller take the 3 and 4 spots and Creek, Oladipo, and Sheehey battle for the last starting spot. Jurkin takes the minutes that Zeller is out. The other freshmen and Remy will see minutes but likely won’t be substantial until they outplay the vets. How many days until the season begins?

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