Mike Burrus admits he’s just making an educated guess. The head basketball coach at Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, Ala., has had some discussion with his former pupil Christian Watford and Watford’s parents about Watford’s consideration of taking an early entry into the NBA draft but he’s not necessarily on the inner-most circle of discussions.
But Burrus’s guess is that if the Indiana junior forward believes he’s going to be drafted — be it with a guaranteed contract in the first round or without one in the second round — he will decide to make the leap and forgo his senior season.
“Right now, he’s pretty hot,” Burrus said. “If you get injured and something happens, it may not be that way for you. That may not. If there’s interest, if he can get in that first or second round I think it would be pretty much a done deal. That’s just me. I don’t know that for sure. That’s what I think would be the outcome if that happens.”
Burrus said he’s had some conversations with the family and some brief discussions with Watford when the Hoosiers were in Atlanta for the NCAA Tournament South Regional semifinals against Kentucky. He said Watford was waffling back and forth at the time, but the idea was something he was very much considering and he’s trying to figure out exactly how much interest there is in him at the next level.
Burrus can confirm that there is at least some. He said several scouts and other player personnel employees for NBA teams have called doing background checks, trying to find out about Watford’s personality and about his character.
“They were just basically asking stuff like, ‘Was he a good practice player?’” Burrus said. “‘Did he do well in his classes?’ Just general basic stuff about him and his practice habits. … That’s a real plus for him. He’s never been in trouble. Grades have always been good. I’m sure they’re finding that out.”
Burrus said his impression from NBA scouts is that they like his versatility, but have some concerns about his strength.
“They like his ability to play and defend multiple positions from what I can tell,” Burrus said. “From point guard to shooting guard to forward. Their biggest question is the same one that usually comes up with size and strength, physically. Would he be able to play the 4? Would he be able to play the 3? That kind of thing.”
He did say that Indiana’s potential to built on its Sweet 16 run is something that would make him consider staying.
““It’s hard to turn down the kind of money those guys are making, especially when you’ve got a degree,” Burrus said. “…(But) that would be a definite thing that would have to be considered. You made it as far as you did this year with a team that wasn’t expected to be that good. From the recruits they got coming in it appears that they’re going to be better.”