Trendon Watford leaning on brother’s guidance as star grows #iubb

When his older brother speaks, Trendon Watford listens.

To navigate the prep basketball landscape as a burgeoning Division I prospect, Watford knows he needs guidance. In his brother Christian — a former Indiana University standout — Watford has an accomplished mentor.

“He’s been through the college level, the NBA level (and) he’s been through the professional level,” Watford said. “He just tells me it’s going to be hard and you have to keep working every day, day in, day out.”

So that’s what Watford is doing, challenging himself this spring and summer as one of the few freshmen playing big boy basketball on the Nike EYBL circuit. Flanked by players two years older and more physically mature than him, Watford is receiving an early lesson in what it takes to follow his brother’s path to basketball’s next level.

His quest for development and notoriety brought him to Indiana last weekend, where his Alabama Challenge 17U squad tipped off against prospects from across the country at Jonathan Byrd’s Fieldhouse in Westfield. In seven EYBL games this spring, Watford is averaging 14.1 points and six rebounds, while shooting 34 percent from 3-point range.

Seated in the front row for his games was Christian, who watched his younger brother start to make a name for himself against more experienced competition as his freshman year of high school comes to a close.

“It’s tough,” Christian said. “He played up last year, but (there’s) the difference between 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds. Doesn’t seem much. It’s a year, but it’s really like, just a lot of guys mature from 16 to 17 more than 15 to 16. He struggled with it a little early, but now he’s getting the hang of it. That’s all it is — strength, speed, size. That’s all it is at the end of the day.”

Already, the younger Watford has the size, skill and projectable frame that has Division I programs interested.

At 6-foot-8, 195 pounds, Watford looks the part. He flashes an ability to score from all over the court, and is coming off an introductory high school season that saw him average 23.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest at Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Ala.

Alabama, Auburn, Central Florida, Florida, Virginia, Notre Dame and Michigan State have all begun recruiting Watford in earnest. Indiana hasn’t offered him a scholarship just yet, but IU coach Tom Crean reportedly watched Watford up close against 2017 top five prospect — and IU target — Michael Porter on Friday in Westfield.

Watford told reporters after Saturday’s morning session that he’s hoping to hear from the Hoosiers soon, but he also knows it’s early in the process. There’s already enough familiarity between his family and IU’s coaching staff, and 2019 is far in the distance.

“I’m sure they will,” Christian said about the possibility of IU recruiting his brother down the road. “… A lot of people haven’t really come after him yet, not just Indiana. It’s just early. A lot of schools feel like they have time, as far as them coming to see a ninth-grader and stuff like that. Especially for Indiana, recruiting that far away. We’re getting all the southeastern schools.”

Christian, meanwhile, is recovering from surgery on his Achilles three months ago. In the three seasons since exhausting his college eligibility at IU, he’s spent time in Israel, the D-League, NBA Summer League and on the preseason roster of the Boston Celtics.

While he waits for his next professional opportunity, Christian is content to watch his brother from the sidelines.

“Every game is a battle,” the younger Watford said.

Just like his brother told him.


  1. It is great to hear about Christian! Good luck in pursuing your dream! Now let’s recruit Trendon and make him a Hoosier!

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