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Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Buford's Watson: Big points, big potential

Some basketball players are gifted with the ability to score. Buford’s Marcus Watson is one of those guys. Whether it’s taking it strong to the rim or stepping outside to shoot a 3-pointer, Watson has developed a reputation for being a big man with extreme offensive skills.

“I like scoring the ball,” Watson said. “I’m not going to lie to you. That’s what I like to do and that’s what I’d like to do when I go to college. That’s what I do best.”

Buford coach Eddie Martin nodded his head in agreement.

“He’s wired to score,” Martin said. “He’s got that mindset that he can score on anybody. He doesn’t have a great shooting night every night, but he’s got that mindset that he can score.”

Watson, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound junior, is averaging 21.3 points and eight rebounds.  He’s shooting 65 percent on 2-point field goal tries and 34 percent on 3-pointers.  He recently scored the 1,000th point of his career.

Watson’s family moved from Winston-Salem, N.C., to Buford at the beginning of Watson’s sophomore season. The transition wasn’t difficult. Buford point guard Alex Jones sent him a direct message asking, “Are you coming to Buford?” Forward David Viti sent along a welcome text. Jones later helped drive Watson home from practice and the two became best friends.

“It was an easy transition,” Watson said. “The teachers have been great, too. They’ve turned me around as a student and as a basketball player.”

There was a feeling-out process, but once the players developed some chemistry, the Wolves were playing at a high level. Other than one scary moment in the second round, Buford rolled over everyone en route to the Class AAAAA championship.

“That was an amazing season,” Watson said. “We want to win another one. We can’t be complacent. It’s harder to repeat. We’ve got a target on our back and when the other team sees Buford coming, they play their best game.”

Buford is currently tied for first place in Region 8 with Cedar Shoals, the team it defeated in the state final a year ago. The two teams have split their regular-season meetings and could play for the region championship next month.

Watson is starting to go through the recruiting process. He posted a photo of him holding his first letter, from the University of Virginia. He fondly recalls his first scholarship offer from Mercer and is amazed by the influx of text messages he’s received since becoming open game. He already has offers from Georgia Tech – coach Josh Pastner and staff texted him birthday wishes -- and Georgia, which got on him early.

But Watson said he’s in no hurry to sign. He said he’ll probably make a decision about this time next year. There won’t be any shortage of offers.

“I’ve got a lot of options,” he said.

His ultimate goal is to play professional basketball. When the family moved to Buford, they chose the school partly because of Martin’s reputation for developing NBA-ready players. Jodie Meeks (Washington), Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland) and Gani Lawal (formery Phoenix, now Turkish Basketball League) played for Martin at Norcross. Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee) played for Martin at Greater Atlanta Christian. It is not unreasonable to believe Watson can join that list.

“There are some other areas he needs to tighten up, but he should have a lot of choices,” Martin said.

Watson already has the body for the next level. He looks as physically developed as most seniors and a lot of college players. Martin had one Division I college coach tell him, “He’s bigger than most of my guys.” And, as a bonus, Watson can carry on a conversation with an adult with ease, another skill that young players don’t often possess.

Watson said, “I’m going to continue to work hard. I’m just going to try to become a good all-around player and standout in everything I do.”

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