Entering the offseason, Morgan Park senior point guard Marcus Watson Jr. didn’t have a lot of national recruiting attention.
Although the 6-foot-1 lefty was one of the city’s best floor generals, he wasn’t getting the scholarship offers to back it up. Watson's hard work over the summer paid off on Tuesday night as the Class of 2020 point guard committed to Wake Forest with an announcement on Twitter.
The recruiting outlook for Watson changed once he took the floor with the Mac Irvin Fire in the Nike EYBL. Playing with high-caliber teammates — including Morgan Park backcourt running mate Adam Miller — Watson thrived with the Fire this spring and summer on the national grassroots landscape as his pass-first style looked great in an open-floor setting.
Putting up 11.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and a league-leading 8.9 assists per contest, in 18 games this spring and summer, Watson's play in the EYBL helped him draw the high-major attention he was seeking. Illinois jumped in with a scholarship offer after the April Live Period. Numerous other high-majors tracked Watson’s play in June with Morgan Park and during July at the Nike Peach Jam.
In the end, the Demon Deacons came away with the pledge as Watson becomes the second senior point guard in the area to commit to a high-major program. Marian Catholic's Ahron Ulis made his decision to attend Iowa earlier this month.
Watson excels at setting up others while running an offense as the talent around him should ultimately dictate his success in the ACC. Although Watson is a talented player on both ends, improving on an inconsistent perimeter jumper will be a key to Watson becoming a dynamic threat in the nation's toughest conference. A solid mid-range shooter, Watson only shot 21 percent (5-for-23) from three-point range in EYBL play. If Watson can improve that number, then he could turn into a complete offensive weapon at the college level.
The commitment for Watson also signifies that Wake Forest will remain aggressive in Chicago after building a recent pipeline with Morgan Park and the Mac Irvin Fire. Although Watson is the first high school commitment to go to Wake Forest from Chicago (and the Fire), Demon Deacon senior guard Torry Johnson is a former Morgan Park standout who transferred into Wake Forest before last season.
Thanks in-part to Johnson's commitment, the Wake Forest coaching staff has been active with Chicago-area players, offering scholarships to Watson's Morgan Park teammates Adam Miller and junior guard Brandon Weston as well as Neuqua Valley junior wing John Poulakidas. Milwaukee-area standout Michael Foster Jr., a Class of 2021 standout who plays with Watson on the Fire, has also received a Wake Forest scholarship offer.
By landing Watson, the catalyst for the Fire's successful uptempo offense, the Demon Deacons are hoping that others might follow. While Wake Forest struggled in the ACC last season, they have a recent under-the-radar recruit turned NBA first-round pick in Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins. So it's interesting to see head coach Danny Manning and his staff target Watson, a player not many high-majors took a chance with. Wake Forest is hoping Watson can become the program's next three-star prospect that they turn into an all-league player.
Although the area's Class of 2020 has been slower to commit than some recent groups, the recent commitments of Ulis and Watson show that point guards are still a huge national storyline this fall as teams are trying to lock up floor leaders early.