The news was eye-catching when it appeared on Twitter. After going in-home and visiting 5-star Trendon Watford on April 7, Archie Miller and the other members of his IU staff were going back less than two weeks later.
While not completely unheard of, this was a pretty unique occurrence. The spring recruiting windows are tight. There was just a four day window in early April and then just four more days in mid-April for coaches and players to get organized and squeeze in all of the visits they were targeting.
As far as we know, Indiana was the only school to get a 2nd visit with Watford during the spring recruiting period, and the 6-8 forward has plenty of interest. His offer list includes Kansas, Memphis, Alabama, Iowa, Indiana and others.
So why the extra time with the IU coaches? Since the visit happened on Wednesday, only this article (paywall) was released with any specifics on the visit, and it offers nothing in terms of particulars on why Indiana was invited back. Instead, Watford’s father Ernest is quoted with some of the more common non-specific/general statements that recruits and their families commonly say after visits.
So were are left to speculate — and speculate we will. Here are some possible theories to consider:
LETTING US DOWN IN PERSON
Let’s get this one out of the way first since we know it isn’t valid. One theory was the Watford family, given their relationship with IU and the coaches, wanted to tell the Hoosier staff in person that Trendon was eliminating Indiana from his list of schools. We now know enough to confirm that isn’t the case.
EVALUATING INDIANA’S LEVEL OF INTEREST?
This seems to be a real area of focus with Trendon’s father Ernest. It seems as though every time he is quoted as it relates to Indiana, there is an observation related to the degree to which Indiana is focused on Trendon’s recruitment, such as this story where the Watfords note “Miller told Trendon and his father Ernest that Indiana was “all in” and going “full tilt” for Watford”.
(Side note — notice what the elder Watford had to say about where Indiana stands with Romeo Langford in this article).
The evaluation of Indiana’s efforts by the family is understandable. The recruitment by IU has spanned multiple coaches, and obviously there was a certain degree of comfort already established with Tom Crean.
Secondly, it is well known that Indiana is making a hard push for several 5-star forwards in its 2019 class. It would be reasonable on the Watford’s part to want to understand where things stand in relation to the other targets. We’ll come back to that.
INDIANA IS IN CONTENTION, BUT…
Alabama is thought to be the clubhouse leader in Watford’s recruitment, but what is that really based on? Geography? The Watford family lives in suburban Birmingham. Again, as far as we know, the Tide didn’t have a second in-home visit. While we aren’t ready to say that IU is in the lead here, we’ve seen and heard enough to feel comfortable saying that they are at least being seriously considered.
If in fact Indiana is being seriously considered, then the variable likely at the top of family’s mind is the other forwards that IU is targeting in the class of 2019. Perhaps it is just an IU fan’s fantasy, but with the Hoosiers seemingly in good shape with several 2019 5-star forwards, it is not outside the realm of reasonable that these players could be looking to commit before each other. They aren’t all coming to IU. That most certainly is just a fantasy. So at least in theory, it could be a race to commit first. Wouldn’t that be nice?
So perhaps Trendon and his family are evaluating where they stand relative to the other 2019 forwards’ timing to get a sense for when they might need to decide. At some point others might commit first — and then the decision will be made for him.
INDIANA IS IN THE DRIVERS SEAT?
We all know that Christian Watford’s positive experience at IU is helping the cause here, and it likely left an indelible imprint on Trendon too.
With those factors in mind, along with the second visit, it isn’t unreasonable to speculate that IU might actually be in the lead. And there is one other variable at play here that might lend itself to an IU lean.
THE ED SCHILLING CONNECTION
From Keion Brooks, to Romeo Langford, and others, we keep hearing Ed Schilling’s name come up when recruits are discussing the positives at Indiana. Inside the Hall had this quote from Ernest Watford in a story they ran after Trendon’s visit to Indiana last September:
“Ed Schilling is our guy there. We’ve known Ed a long time going back to when Christian was going through training and Trendon remembers him.”
On paper it looks like Archie Miller hit it out of the park with that hire. We’ll see for sure over the next few months if it pays off.
The Indiana coaches will have several opportunities to watch Trendon play in the coming weeks as he performs on the EYBL circuit for the Georgia Stars. Watford has said that he will likely start making cuts to his list this summer with a decision in the fall, if not sooner.
The question now is, if Indiana truly is under strong consideration, will he be able to wait that long? The dominoes might start falling sooner than later.
Will there be another Watford to wear the Cream and Crimson? We’ll leave it to Christian, who said it best in one word after Trendon’s visit last September:
— Christian Watford (@Cwat205) September 16, 2017
Maybe. But that maybe seems a lot more promising now than it did back in September.
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