The 6’8 Center will continue his basketball career at Providence next year.
Watch Nate Watson’s highlights of a double-double performance against Gonzaga on 1/31/17. (Video courtesy of hudl.com)
March 15, 2017- A top 100 prospect nationally (247sports) and the latest of the talented athletes in the WCAC to receive offers from Division I schools, Bishop O’Connell center Nate Watson has wrapped up his career with the Knights and is ready for his next step at Providence.
Watson, a ferocious rebounder and dominant force inside, on both ends of the court, finished his O’Connell career with 767 points 245 rebounds in just two seasons after transferring to one of the nation’s best high school conferences from Capitol Christian Academy. The 6’8, 230 lbs. prospect says he learned a lot throughout his stay in Arlington and is thankful for the memories he made there.
“Coach Joe Wooten has really developed me into being a good player. He developed my athleticism a lot,” said Watson. “I think that really changed my game. He’s also a very good post player coach. He got me better in that way too.”
Playing in the WCAC, known for developing high school athletes to thrive once they get to the next level, was extremely beneficial to Watson, and something he and future coach Ed Cooley believe, will give him a leg up once he arrives in Friar Town.
“I think playing in the WCAC, which is one of the best conferences in the country made me better too,” said Watson. “Coach Cooley talked to me about that a lot. He said it’s good that I’m already used to playing good competition and know the fundamentals and everything. I think that’s a plus on my end. Having a good coach and playing in one of the best conferences.”
Throughout his recruitment, the Upper Marlboro, Md. native had offers from schools like NC State, Maryland, Miami, as well as a plethora of other power five schools. The deciding factor in choosing Providence? Seventh year head coach Ed Cooley and his knowledge and talent for developing big men to get them ready for the NBA.
“Coach Cooley does a good job in developing their big men,” said Watson. “Bentil averaged five points his freshman year and then his sophomore year averaged 20 something points and then went to the NBA. I felt like Providence was the best fit because I really want to go to the NBA and be the best that I can be.”
Ben Bentil, a player Watson sees glimpses of himself in, and is now playing for the Dallas Mavericks D-League team after being named First Team All-Big East and an honorable mention All-American underwent a transformation between his freshman and sophomore year under Cooley, something that opened Watson’s eyes.
Another thing that opened Watsons eyes: the Friars’ success this season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Providence is 20-12 and in position for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s very cool seeing Providence doing so well now,” said Watson. “It makes me actually more comfortable going there because everyone’s returning. Providence is going to keep getting better and better.”
Although ready for his next step, Watson said he will never forget his time at O’Connell. The Knights went 40-22 in Watson’s two years on campus. The relationships he’s built with his teammates like Xavier Johnson, who he’s trying to convince to join him at Providence, have been once in a lifetime experiences. Watson believes his high school career ending loss to DeMatha says all you have to know about the O’Connell program.
“I definitely remember our last loss vs. DeMatha,” recalled Watson. “Even though we lost, everybody played their hearts out. We had five players in double digits. We all had around the same amount of points and all played together. We ended up losing but I felt we played our heart out that game. I’m really going to miss this team.”
As his senior year winds down, Watson will enjoy his last moments and O’Connell while continue to improve his game to be the best he can possibly be for Ed Cooley and Providence Basketball.