Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Devontae Watson: A First Look

When you stand a shade over 6’10, it is a challenge going unnoticed. For Devontae Watson, a junior at Lincoln Park High School in Midland, Pennsylvania, the days of going unnoticed, and flying under the radar, are coming to a sudden end. I had the opportunity to speak with Devontae’s high school coach at Lincoln Park, Mike Bariski, yesterday afternoon.

According to his high school coach, Devontae is an evolving player who, like many big men, is a relative newcomer to the game of basketball. He did not even play basketball as a 9th grader, and then transferred into Lincoln Park, where he started as a sophomore. At the moment, Devontae checks in at 6’10 ½ and 195 pounds. In addition to his size, Devontae also possesses a tremendous wingspan of right around 92 inches. According to his coach, Devontae, despite his size, runs the court like a six-footer and jumps with ease.

This athletic ability has made the transition into organized basketball easier for Watson, but his coach maintains that his best days are ahead of him. Shot-blocking and rebounding are Devontae’s strengths at the moment, and his offense is a continual work in progress. Devontae’s go-to move on the offensive end is a jump hook to his right, but his repertoire will continue to expand this off-season and into his senior year.

As mentioned earlier, shot-blocking is one of Devontae’s greatest assets. Lincoln Park took on Philadelphia’s Math, Civics, and Sciences in March for the PIAA Class A championship. In the first half of that game alone, Bariski said that Devontae had nine blocks. In the second half, MCS made adjustments and stopped taking the ball into the paint. Devontae finished that game, a 70-55 loss, with an unofficial tally of 13 points and 13 rebounds.

According to Bariski, his star junior is also a very nice kid. Although he is nice, polite, and respectful, his coach explained that he also has a mean streak. He is not the type of player that will get pushed around and not push back. As a senior this coming season, Devontae will take on more of a leadership role, one that his coach thinks will come naturally.

Although still a newcomer to the game, college coaches are certainly taking notice of Devontae’s potential. At the moment, Devontae has at least six scholarship offers. Four of the scholarship offers are from schools in the Atlantic 10: Saint Joseph’s, Temple, Dayton, and Duquesne. Cleveland State and Robert Morris have also extended Devontae scholarship offers. Akron is another school that may have just offered Devontae. Both Penn State and DePaul are also keeping a close eye on him.

This summer, Devontae is playing AAU ball with the King James Shooting Stars. Two other highly-regarded Pittsburgh-area players, juniors Sheldon Jeter and Tyler Scott, are on the same AAU team. Over the AAU season and summer months, Devontae is likely to continue opening eyes with his athletic play. As his recruitment continues to intensify, and as he looks to take home a state championship next season, you can check back here for updates.

Photo Courtesy of http://duphoops.blogspot.com/

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