Watson adds to Trailblazers' shooting

Photo courtesy of Antonio Watson

Vincennes University's latest recruit, 6-1 Antonio Watson, is counted on to give the Blazers more 3-point shooting.

Vincennes University's basketball team was one of the better 3-point shooting teams a year ago, hitting 39 percent of its 3-point attempts on the way to the 2019 NJCAA championship.

Shooting is expected to be a strength on the upcoming team, with newest recruit 6-1 Antonio Watson expected to add to the long-range efficiency.

Watson, from Columbus, Ohio, played the past season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy where he averaged 15 points and four assists per game. He recently played for Team Ohio in the Under-19 Junior International Tournament in Italy, averaging 20 points and four assists. He tallied 26 points in the championship game win and was named to the five-player, all-tournament team.

"Antonio's claim to fame is he can really shoot it," Trailblazers coach Todd Franklin said. "It's solid form, with not a lot of room for error, and he gets it off quick. Antonio can shoot off down picks, flairs, sprinting corner to corner, off fast breaks, wherever.

"He's a combo guard, but he's more of a 2-guard than a 1 and has the size of a 1. He's wiry, weighing about 165 and was really skinny a year ago. He probably put on 15 pounds of muscle at Fork Union," Franklin said. "(Assistant coach Brian Davis) and I both thought he looked a lot like (former VU player) Charles Foster. Antonio shoots the ball better than Charles, but I don't think he puts it on the floor as well as Charles did.

"We'll develop the rest of his game. I'd like to get him to play the 1 as time goes on," he said. "Antonio is a good guy, a good student and will mix into our culture well."

The Blazers return three players who shot 40 percent or better from the arc: 6-2 Colton Sandage (41 percent), 6-6 Kevin Osawe (40) and 6-1 Craig Porter (40). Watson is likely a candidate for that club.

"We weren't necessarily looking for a shooter, but the adage now is that you can't have enough shooting. That's just where the game is going," Franklin said. "With what we have this year, we'll probably have four guys on the floor who can shoot (from 3-point range). We have a lot of 3-point shooting, and it better be a strength.

"If we do that, we can open up different areas and stretch it out. We didn't have that a lot last year."

Watson is the sixth recruit for the 2019 VU class, joining 6-7 Matija Ilic, 6-6 John Ukomadu, 6-5 Milo Sigmund-Gordon, 6-5 Christian Wells and 6-0 Patrick Fisher.

VU has one recruit to go. It's not necessarily a weakness that the Blazers are going into August without a full class. Two years ago, VU signed Ty Gadsden and Osawe days before school started.

"We'll see if something pops late. We've had success at times with this," Franklin said. "In a perfect world, I'd like to get a power forward, who could move over and play as an undersized 5. But if a good player is available and is the right kind of guy to be here, I'm not going to turn down talent just to fill a position."

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