INDIANAPOLIS – Christian Watford believes his name will be called during the NBA draft June 27, even if many prognosticators aren’t so sure.
I’m very confident. One thing throughout this process is I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from a lot of coaches, Watford said after working out for the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday afternoon.
That was his ninth workout for an NBA team and he’s got a few more remaining.
Some might say not getting drafted could be a blessing because, as a free agent, Watford and his agent, Joel Bell, could make sure they find the best fit for the former Indiana player.
Watford doesn’t buy that.
I want to be one of those who gets their name called, said Watford, 6-foot-9, 224 pounds. I’m not too big on free agency. But whatever comes, you’ve just got to deal with it.
Watford, along with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls, are potential draft picks who played last season for the Hoosiers. IU spent much of last season as the top-ranked team but lost to Syracuse in the Sweet 16.
Watford averaged 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 36 games last season, after he considered entering the draft as a junior.
He’s glad he stayed.
It definitely made me a lot tougher, and I don’t regret coming back, he said. You learn a lot of things along the way and get a lot more maturity. You constantly get better at shooting the ball and stretching the floor and working on your skill set.
Watford, who will likely be a small forward in the NBA, knows he’s perceived as a shooter who must work on other parts of his game. In his IU career, he averaged 13.1 points and 5.8 rebounds.
They’ve done a great job of watching me through my four years at Indiana, so I just want to go out there and show them I can play great defense, Watford said of NBA scouts and executives. You want to turn any negatives into positives and get great feedback.
As for the pressure of performing in front of about 10 front-office types with the Pacers – other players trying out Tuesday were Oklahoma’s Romero Osby, Miami’s Kenny Kadji and Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe – Watford smiled and said it was not a big deal.
The Pacers have the 23rd and 53rd picks in the draft.
This is something I’ve been doing my whole life, playing basketball and working out, he said. Once you prepare, you just go out there and do whatever is necessary.