2012-2013 Player Profile: Christian Watford

It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Christian Watford.

Key stats: 12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 81.5 FT %, 43.7 3P FG%, 18.8 defensive rebounding percentage.

Eight months after Christian Watford’s buzzer beater knocked off No. 1 Kentucky, the play continued to garner national attention. Watford, dressed in a suit and tie, stood on a Hollywood stage on July 11 and accepted an ESPY award for the play of the year in all of sports.

But as memorable as that shot was and will continue to be, it was one of many highlights in Watford’s junior season that saw him rank second on the team in scoring, rebounding, free throws made and 3-pointers made.

Watford grew tremendously in his third year in Bloomington. Defensively, he was tasked with guarding the perimeter during the Big Ten season and was successful in disrupting guys like Michigan State’s Keith Appling and Michigan’s Trey Burke for stretches. He also made more of an effort to clean up the defensive glass and it showed as he posted the best defensive rebounding percentage on the team. In IU’s 74-70 win over Ohio State on New Year’s Eve, it was Watford who corralled William Buford’s missed 3-pointer in the game’s closing seconds.

As he enters his final year at Indiana, Watford’s role doesn’t figure to change much. He’s clearly one of the Big Ten’s elite perimeter shooters and could be better in that area with more talent on IU’s roster. In his first two seasons, opponents often keyed in on stopping him. But the arrival of Cody Zeller last season allowed Watford to play more on the perimeter and his efficiency improved as a result. Yogi Ferrell’s ability to drive and dish should improve the quality of the looks Watford receives from the outside even more. Remarkably for a 6-foot-9 player, Watford shot better on 3-point attempts than he did on 2′s, so finishing in the paint is a potential area he’ll look to improve upon.

His defense, which improved as last season moved along, will need to take another step forward if Indiana is to become decidedly better in that area. Watford said at Thursday’s media challenge that he believes he’ll continue to see time guarding perimeter players this season. The challenge of using his length and positioning as a means of pressuring the ball was something Watford seemed to embrace.

Bottom line: After receiving feedback from the NBA Draft Advisory Committee, Watford decided to stay put for his senior season and the opportunity to make a deeper run in the NCAA Tournament. In Watford’s words, he felt like “there were some stones unturned that we can definitely get.” Zeller will receive most of the national accolades, but the Hoosiers need similar offensive output from Watford and his experience and leadership to reach Atlanta.

Quotable: “It’s fine. It’s a lot better. It’s the best it’s been.” – Watford on a foot injury that hampered him for part of the offseason.

Previously: Derek Elston

  • SCHoosier

    Wat should be poised for a great year..but with all the talent we shouldn’t expect double-doubles or better every game. I just hope he’s learned to pump fake under the bucket..has left a lot of free throws on the court by not doing it.

  • marcusgresham

    I said it a year or two ago, but as a pro he’s going to be in the Robert Horry mold. Now, I’m not saying he’ll be as successful as Horry, but he’ll go late in the first round, which will put him on a good team, so he’s going to spend his career in the playoffs and collect rings as a key role player off the bench.

    This year, however, he’s going to be at the top of the food chain!

  • David Banners

    If C-Wat plays each game with the intensity and fire he displayed in the tourney games, watch out. I can see him taking pride in showing the young gun in Hollowell how it’s done…16 days!!!!!!

  • IUMIKE1

    Seems like whenever you or I comment, and it is about CWat, the two words, “pump fake”, almost always finds it’s way into the comment. I’m sure CWat can have a good to great year w/o utilizing it, but it just seems like so much good could come from doing such a little thing, especially with him shooting the high % that he does from the line, not to mention the other intangibles that come from the other team fouling more. I’ll have to remember to bring that up next time Coach Crean swings by for supper and a consultation.

  • IUMIKE1

    Seems like when you or I make a comment and it concerns CWat the two words “pump fake” are almost always included and with good reason I feel like. CWat can and will have a good to great season w/o utilizing it but it just seems like such a simple thing could help so much. I’ll have to remember to bring that up next time Tom stops by for supper and a consultation. lol

  • IUMIKE1

    Oops, didn’t mean to double down, the first one didn’t show up until I posted the second one for some reason.

  • skotchie

    Well finally this is the year Christian can shoot from the perimeter all he wants to showcase himself for the next level and it won’t drive me nuts. In the past he has been IU’s most athletic big man and it bothered me that he wasn’t under the glass fighting for rebounds with the other bigs. Now IU has those players to do that job freeing up Christian to shoot. Have your greatest season at IU Mr. Watford.

  • MillaRed

    We all know CWat inside and out. The one thing I (and the NBA) need to see is consistency every single game. I am really hoping Hollowell and/or Hanner progress quickly so CWat realizes there are indeed other options on the bench if he is not bringing his A game.

    When have you seen Watford raise up and just jam on someone? A thunderous 2-handed dunk? A massive rebound ripped out of a crowd?

    Hey Christian, RELEASE THE BEST MAN! You have it in you. Now go out there and dominate!

    This kid doesn’t know how good he is. I’m looking forward to no one stopping him when he is on fire this year.

  • Andrew

    Did you mean “beast” instead of “best”? Or is C-Wat holding someone hostage at a wedding? He had the jam you’re describing against Michigan at the Hall last year. And re-watch the second Michigan State game to see him rebound in crowds. But I very much agree with your premise, that he needs to bring it way more often. There are too many other options on the roster if he isn’t ready to go.

  • dtfreed

    Watford needs to have stronger hands, better grip on the ball in the paint. Also if he develop a pull up jumper, improve his dribble a little, he’ll be even higher in the draft

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