With local gyms closed for a couple months, and then national AAU circuits shut down, the offseason has been full of challenges for the nation’s top high school basketball players.
Will Lovings-Watts has a simple formula for dealing with the adversity.
“Just a lot of work,” Lovings-Watts told The Daily Hoosier. “I’m just trying to work on my craft and get better.”
The 6-foot-4 Lovings-Watts ended his sophomore season already firmly on the national radar.
A three-star recruit according to the 247Sports Composite, Lovings-Watts is ranked No. 136 nationally by that recruiting service and the No. 6 player from Indiana in the class of 2022.
The Jeffersonville High School shooting guard is trying to ignore the rankings and recruiting noise and stay focused on the big picture.
“I’m just trying to stay in the gym with trainer, just get in the gym everyday and work on my handle and work on my quickness and stuff like that,” Lovings-Watts said.
Lovings-Watts has been on Indiana’s radar for over a year now. He opened some eyes with an impressive showing at IU’s team camp last June, and the interest from the Hoosier coaching staff has grown from there.
Playing for the 2022 Indiana Elite Adidas program, like most players Lovings-Watts showed some rust in late June as AAU action picked back up. His progression since then has been clear.
Lovings-Watts is strong off the dribble with a quick first step. He is especially dangerous in transition where he finishes around the rim at a high level and plays well through contact. Lovings-Watts’ length makes him an especially intriguing prospect as a perimeter defender at the next level.
Entering his junior year at Jeffersonville, the IU coaching staff has made it clear that they see the potential in Lovings-Watts as a high major player.
“I’m talking to them every day,” Lovings-Watts told The Daily Hoosier. “I had a zoom call with Archie Miller last week.”
Lovings-Watts talks to Miller along with assistant coach Mike Roberts. The IU staff has made it clear during Miller’s tenure that they will prioritize the state’s top talent, and they have let Lovings-Watts know that he is part of that equation.
“They are just saying that they are really interested in me, and that I am one of the top players in Indiana and they are taking notice of that,” Lovings-Watts said.
In high school Lovings-Watts uses his length to dominate the paint, but he knows that he will need to continue to develop his game to maximize his potential at the next level.
“At the next level I am probably going to play the shooting guard position, so I am just trying to work on my shot a lot and my handles,” Lovings-Watts said.
For his sophomore season at Jeffersonville, Lovings-Watts averaged 13 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He shot 49 percent from the field overall including 29 percent from three-point range, and 71 percent from the free throw line.
Lovings-Watts’ jump shot looks fundamentally sound. While he hasn’t been known as a shooter to this point, it seems clear that the perimeter game can become another strength to Lovings-Watts’ game with hard work.
And he is attacking that head on.
“It’s getting better. I am getting up around 2,000 shots per day,” Lovings-Watts said.
When he isn’t playing for Indiana Elite, Lovings-Watts has been finding good competition at home. There is a respectable amount of talent in the area that projects to play at the Division One level in college, and that makes for some good runs on the Indiana side of the Ohio River just north of Louisville.
“We have open gym with some of the best players from the area,” Lovings-Watts said. “(Silver Creek High School class of 2021 IU recruiting target) Trey Kaufman and people like that are coming out there.”
On the recruiting front things have picked up for Lovings-Watts since coaches were permitted to contact him directly beginning on June 15.
Bradley and Wichita State have offered to his point. Along with IU, Lovings-Watts has heard from several other schools including Louisville, Virginia Tech, Tulsa, Illinois, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Florida, Purdue, and Indiana State.
Lovings-Watts hasn’t been to Bloomington for a visit, but he has seen the school’s virtual visit in connection with one of his Zoom meetings.
Whenever things free back up and live in-person visits are permitted, a trip up to the IU campus is something Lovings-Watts intends to do.
“I definitely do want to go out there,” Lovings-Watts said.
SEE ALSO: Lovings-Watts summer AAU highlights.
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