When Bishop O’ Connell senior and Providence commit Nate Watson steps onto the floor, he immediately stands out. At 6’8 and 250 lbs, he is an imposing figure for any opposition.
Of course, while facing against an Our Lady of Good Counsel team who featured no player taller than 6’6, this should be the case.
Physically, Watson is ready for the next level. In terms of his actual play, here are two takeaways from watching the future Friar live.
1. Solid but inconsistent low post offense
While his minutes were limited due to foul trouble, Watson still showed glimpses of quality play. Scoring nine points on six shots, the senior was double teamed for the majority of the game. The few times he was able to have one-on-one opportunities in the post, he used his substantial arsenal of post moves to stupefy the helpless Good Counsel defender.
Since the defense was focusing on stopping Watson, other teammates were able to find open jumpers. Consistently, when the defense came and trapped him in the post, Watson was able to find an open man who either took an open 3-point shot or penetrate his way into the lane, thus forcing the opposition to clamp down and creating more opportunities for Bishop O’Connell.
The only real evident offensive issue in such a small sample size was in one period of the first quarter. During this period of time, Watson wandered around the high post and seemed almost nonexistent in his team’s offense. He appeared content with the double-team and allowed his teammates to drive the team’s offense.
This was in no way successful, resulting in the score being tied after one quarter. Come the second quarter, Watson had become the focal point of his team’s half-court offense once again.
Of course, Bishop O’Connell began to play better just as the future Friar became more involved.
2. Competent interior defending and questionable fouls
On defense, Watson initially struggled to make a mark on the game. Tyler Baylor, an ACC- and Big Ten-offered football player, consistently muscled his way inside and score easy baskets. There were about three or four instances where Baylor was able to push his way past Watson. Come the second half, he was able to settle down and accrue two blocks. Despite that, he was somewhat exposed by his stronger and more physical counterpart.
When matched up with a tougher and sturdier player, Watson fell flat. His athletic potential was still evident, but the senior’s true defensive technique was exposed. When defending, he did not go straight up into the air and was thus regularly being called for fouls. He was vulnerable to smaller guys leaning in and attempting to draw fouls. This could be a negative sign for the future Friar, as college officials almost consistently call fouls on big men who lean into offensive players.
This should be somewhat disconcerting for Friar fans. He is unable to defend a player at the moment who matches or acceded his strength level. With an offseason or two in Cooley’s program, he should be able to grow, develop and become the player expected of him.
Overall, Watson is a solid rebounder with a developing offensive game. He will most likely not start his freshman year and develop his technique and knowledge of the game. Watson has the potential to eventually thrive, but it will require determination and a commitment to Ed Cooley’s system.