The Washington Post

Watford becoming acquainted with D.C. area

Indiana’s Christian Watford gets between Syracuse’s Brandon Triche and C.J. Fair during NCAA tournament region semifinals at Verizon Center. (Getty Images)

Christian Watford was not invited to the NBA combine last month in Chicago, but the 6-foot-9 forward who started four seasons at Indiana has been trying to convince general managers around the league he’s still worth considering in the June 27 draft.

Watford was among six players who auditioned for the Washington Wizards Wednesday at Verizon Center. Also taking part in the hour-long session in front of Coach Randy Wittman and his entire staff along with team president Ernie Grunfeld and other front office executives were forwards Nick Minnerath (Detroit) and Adonis Thomas (Memphis) and guards Peyton Siva (Louisville), Elijah Johnson (Kansas) and Will Clyburn (Iowa State).

Watford has been working out in the area with former Hoosiers teammate Victor Oladipo, who attended DeMatha High School and is considered a top five prospect in the draft. The two have spent nearly every day in the gym over the last three weeks, Watford said, often practicing for up to eight hours.

The last time Watford played a game in the District was during the NCAA tournament regional semifinals at Verizon Center. He had 13 points (4 for 11 shooting) and six rebounds with a team-high five turnovers in 33 minutes in a 61-50 loss to Syracuse.

“It’s definitely a little easier on me with being in Washington and working out in Washington since I’ve been here,” Watford said. “It’s been great for me, the time I’ve spent here.”

Watford was among a handful of players who narrowly missed the cut for an invitation to the NBA combine. Oladipo, a shooting guard, and former teammate Cody Zeller both were invited, but they elected not to participate in the first day of drills. Oladipo and Zeller, a projected lottery pick at power forward or center, both took part in strength and agility tests on the second day.

Watford amassed 1,730 points at Indiana, the ninth most in school history, and started 130 of 132 games. He is a career 41 percent shooter from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line. Watford shot 48 percent from three-point range as a senior.

“I feel like my greatest thing is that I feel like I know how to play with superstars,” Watford said. “I come from a program where we had two capable guys who are lottery picks in this draft. I know how to play with other guys, and I’m not going to do more than what I can. I’m definitely going to go in and stretch the floor and play good defense and rebound the basketball.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.



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Gene Wang · June 5, 2013