That’s A Wrap: Christian Watford

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2011-2012 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Christian Watford.

Final stats (36 games): 12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 41.6% FG, 81.5% FT in 28.4 minutes per game.

The biggest occasions brought out the best in Christian Watford during his junior campaign.

While the Birmingham native still struggled at times with consistency, he exhibited the ability to thrive in pivotal moments. Two of Watford’s 20+ point games came against Kentucky. Two of the other three were against Big Ten foes Michigan and Michigan State.

The signature of those moments, of course, was Watford’s shot to beat the No. 1 Wildcats on Dec. 10 in Assembly Hall.

After squandering a lead late in the game, the Hoosiers needed someone to step up and make a play. And it was Watford who delivered by knocking down a 3-pointer from the left wing to officially put IU back into the top 25 and onto the national map. It was arguably the biggest shot by a Hoosier since Keith Smart in 1987. The chaos that ensued on Branch McCracken court was proof of that.

Afterward, even Watford had a hard time describing how he felt.

“I haven’t felt anything like that,” he said. “It’s probably the most memorable moment of my life, definitely of my career.”

But beyond that game and more important than one shot, Watford matured and improved as the season moved along.

He shot close to 44 percent from behind the 3-point line and posted a defensive rebounding percentage of 18.8, the highest of his career. He continued to get to the foul line (43.1 percent free throw rate) and convert.

He also grew into a defender that Tom Crean trusted enough to put on opposing point guards late in the season. When IU had trouble containing players like Trey Burke and Lewis Jackson, it was Watford who drew the assignment of attempting to slow them down. He was, for the most part, effective in that role.

And in the NCAA Tournament games against Virginia Commonwealth and Kentucky, Watford delivered a pair of scoring runs to keep the Hoosiers close when things looked to be getting out of hand. Against the Rams, he scored eight straight to end the first half and closed a nine-point deficit to one. Against UK, he scored 15 of IU’s 17 points to end the first half.

Such performances would have been unthinkable after the ups and downs of Watford’s first two seasons, but proved just how far he’d come as a player.

Bottom Line: Although Watford didn’t always play to his potential, he exhibited remarkable strides in his third season. With Cody Zeller inside commanding attention, Watford was able to shift to a role he was more comfortable with and thrived. His 3-point shooting improved immensely and he became more effective finishing in the paint and through contact.

While his future in an IU uniform is up in the air as he evaluates his professional future, a return for a senior season would significantly enhance the Hoosiers chances at a Final Four run next season.

Previously: Jordan HullsMatt RothTom PritchardVerdell Jones

  • ace132

    really impressed with the strides Cwat took this season. He was a big game player for us and even showed versatility on defense that I did not know he had. Hopefully he can come back and become more consistent. looking for more big shots next season

  • ace132

    really impressed with the strides Cwat took this season. He was a big game player for us and even showed versatility on defense that I did not know he had. Hopefully he can come back and become more consistent. looking for more big shots next season

  • mrjonessodaandme

    We all want him to come back. There isn’t a Hoosier that doesn’t.
    But after that Tourney if he is going to make the pros, I’d say this is his best chance.

    I’d love it if he came back. I’d hate it if he went, but didn’t get drafted.
    I’d be happy for him if he accomplished his dream and got drafted.

    Bottom line, whatever he decides, I hope it leads to good things for him. And if he comes back, I think a banner is a just a matter of how the ball bounces. Our way and we could be the last team dancing. The talent is no doubt assembled for it.

  • chiswede

    I love that all these pre-preseason rankings are coming out before he has to make his decision….gotta think all those juicy top 5 predictions are pulling him back for his senior year.

  • TampaHoosier

    That combined with the less than stellar NBA pre-draft rankings, it seems like a no-brainer that he would be back.  But you never know what other pressures he may have in his life to get out early.  Here’s hoping he can come back and provide some senior leadership and cut down the nets in Atlanta.

  • http://twitter.com/RatKingCole Cole Phillips Allen

    What I believe is making him contemplate leaving, even if he is the last pick overall, or a non-drafted free agent, is all the talent we have coming in next year.  He will without a doubt, just because of the depth we will have, see reduced minutes.  This will lessen the exposure he has to impress pro scouts.  Also, I am sure he is looking at what happened to Mo Creek and Verdell and saying to himself, “I don’t want that to be me”.  But then again, he could look at a player like Darius Miller… A player that last year was considered a good player, similar to C Wat, but was on no Mock Draft Boards… This year, he is projected to go anywhere from late first round to mid second round.  It is a gamble, but I sure hope he decides to come back to IU.  We would undoubtedly be the deepest team in the Big Ten, maybe even in the nation.  However the cards play out, whether he stays or goes, we will still be successful, we will still be a deep team with a lot of talent, and I will always remember the shot that put Indiana Basketball back on the map and the strides he made as a player over his IU career… I just hope they continue.

  • Hardwood83

    No doubt he likes the big stage. I was mildly surprised he finished as strong as he did after that late season funk he was in, that shows some character, I think. His defense and rebounding were vital to IU in many games and that will be missed the most if he bolts.

    I am not much of an NBA fan anymore so I am not sure how his skills will translate. He ‘s a tough match-up in college and is pretty skilled and usually takes good shots. Plays sound defense and rebounds well.  He is not a great athlete nor particularly strong. I think he’d benefit from returning, but either way he’s a long-shot NBA prospect, IMO.

  • Joe B

    Come back!! Please!! I want to see #6 for the good guys and not #9 for the evil empire!!

  • Abpreston

    Christian – it might be tempting to jump to the NBA but you and the rest of team have worked hard to get to this point. Stay and enjoy a year at the top of the charts and a chance to win a National Chanpionship at IU. That will go with you the rest of your life……just saying! Go IU

  • Derbus

    CWat will be playing in Europe in 2014, after he wins a National Championship at IU next year!  He shot 41% on fgs and does not have a skill repertoire for the NBA.

  • MillaRed

    One thing that hasn’t been brought up is the fact NBA draft picks are a great recruiting tool. CWat would be the first under CTC’s watch at IU to get selected. My concern is he doesn’t get picked. Not a huge deal but if we are going to lose someone early it benefits all parties to go to the NBA.

  • MillaRed

    One thing that hasn’t been brought up is the fact NBA draft picks are a great recruiting tool. CWat would be the first under CTC’s watch at IU to get selected. My concern is he doesn’t get picked. Not a huge deal but if we are going to lose someone early it benefits all parties to go to the NBA.

  • Joe B

    I would say that about lottery or first round picks in general; not sure a 2nd round pick would gain much visibility.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    He is a possible 2nd round pick.  That means less than a 20% chance in staying with an NBA team.  He will think about it and return to play with Yogi and CZ.  Love the way he played in big games.  He has more upside that has not been tapped into.  One more yr and a national champ – will cement him as a first round pick.

  • SCHoosier

    Wat finished strong the last ten games..played HARD in every aspect..rebounding..defending..finishing..hustling etc. Seemed like a (NBA?) light came on. That said..I’m not sure the pro’s will wonder where the 100% effort was during most of the season. I guess we’ll soon find out.

  • MillaRed

    So telling a future recruit your small forward was just drafted by the New York Knicks doesn’t hold any water? Seriously?

  • 888

    Cwat is the perhaps the best example of how far this program has come from last year to this year. He thought about transfering and now if he comes back we may be a unanimous #1 next year. WOW! Hats off to CTC. Its taken aminute but its all gonna be worth it. Its about like coach k at duke. They thought about firing him after year 3. Man would that have been a mistake. I think hell come back but its gonna be by the narrowest margins.

  • jermhoosierfan

    He was much improved this past season over last year’s, but he is still inconsistent.  He will disappear in games much to often, but when he comes alive, he just takes over.  That is what we need from him next year.  If he can assert his will at the beginning of the game, lookout everybody.  C-Wat came to play tonight.  He can be a late first rounder then.  He just needs to be aggressive and get some a little more muscle on his lean frame.

  • http://twitter.com/srhise srhise

    If Watford leaves for NBA IU won’t be as good next year as they are this year. Sorry but Hollowell and Parea have no chance of playing post defense year 1. Pritchard is gone, people and his 8 minutes were important. We need Watford so bad. 

  • Taskmaster75

    If he gets cut from the team for not having a guaranteed contract, it really won’t mean anything. Let’s just say Crean will stick to the Dwayne Wade pitch for now.

  • Taskmaster75

    If he gets cut from the team for not having a guaranteed contract, it really won’t mean anything. Let’s just say Crean will stick to the Dwayne Wade pitch for now.

  • Jordanb_41

    I think he should come back his senior year and work on his game and progress. Plus he would have an education to fall back on. And have a possible banner .We need his game!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JeremyAce4 Jeremy Johnson

    D-Dub:  Two words for ya:  Kirk Haston.  Come back, dude.

  • dtfreed

    as they said on DD show yesterday, every player is listed as a late 1st round / 2nd round player.

  • Aubreyhouse

    One more year as a Hoosier. This guy just keeps getting better!  I think he probably turns himself into top 20 NBA prospect by the time Crean is finished with him next year. 
    Cwat will now be a Hoosier legend.

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