That’s A Wrap: Christian Watford

  • 03/31/2010 10:06 pm in

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - First Round

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our attempt to um, wrap up the 2009-10 season. Sit back. Relax. Grab some popcorn. Get your read on.

Final Stats (31 games): 12.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 37.5% FG, 80% FT, 19 blocks, 16 steals.

Considered one of the prized pieces of Indiana’s 2009 recruiting class, Christian Watford stepped onto campus in Bloomington with the expectation he’d make significant contributions from the get-go.

In fact, Tom Crean introduced him to fans at Hoosier Hysteria as the kid from Birmingham who had turned down the likes of Kentucky, Louisville and Memphis to be a Hoosier. This, as you would expect, drew quite a round of applause from the Assembly Hall faithful.

And for the most part, Watford lived up the expectations that come along with being a consensus top-50 recruit.

He was third on the team in scoring. He led the team in rebounding, despite being asked to play out of position for most of the season. He hit free throws at a remarkably efficient rate for a 6-9 freshman (116 of 145). He turned in one of his best performances in Indiana’s most impressive win of the season over Pittsburgh, scoring 18 points (12 of 15 FT) and grabbing five rebounds. He was named one of the five best freshman in the Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.

But like most freshmen, Watford also had his share of struggles.

There was the game at Wisconsin in which Crean left Watford on the floor during a blowout to teach him that he wasn’t really tired. Crean believed that Watford needed to learn to play through fatigue.

And although he did average 12 points per contest, he shot just 37.5 percent from the field despite taking a majority of his shots in or around the paint. The low shooting percentage, coupled with IU’s conference record, probably gave Illinois’ D.J. Richardson (coaches) and Northwestern’s Drew Crawford (media) the nod for freshman of the year in the conference. Watford seemed to have problems adjusting, at times, to the physical rigors of the Big Ten, evidenced by the frequency his shots were blocked.

The Bottom Line: Given his physical attributes and skill level, the future is obviously bright for Watford. He could, one day, play at the next level. His biggest area for improvement, like much of the Indiana roster, is getting stronger so he’s able to finish plays at the basket consistently. He’s probably more of a three than a four, but given the current frontcourt situation and his ability to rebound, he’ll likely continue to see the majority of his minutes at the four. That said, look for him to be a more rounded player, capable of shooting a much higher percentage of the field, as a sophomore.

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