Whitfield’s Watson commits to Mizzou

September 9, 2017

COLUMBIA, MO. • Whitfield High shooting guard Torrence Watson, the area’s top scorer last season, committed to Ohio State this summer, changed his mind last month and now has a new destination. The four-star prospect has committed to Missouri’s 2018 class, he announced Friday on Twitter.

Watson, a 6-5 guard rated the third-best player in the state for 2018 by 247Sports.com, trimmed his list of schools to eight this spring: Mizzou, SLU, Butler, Creighton, Kansas State, Marquette, Michigan and Vanderbilt. Ohio State wasn’t among those choices, but when Butler coach Chris Holtmann took the Buckeyes’ job, Watson pledged a commitment to the Big Ten school in July. He backed out of his pledge in August, saying he wanted to play closer to home.

“Essentially he had great relationships with the coaching staff at Ohio State and at the time he felt that was the best decision for him,” Whitfield coach Mike Potsou said Friday. “But the more he sat on it, the more the distance became a factor. Going into his decision that was one of his top three reasons for choosing a school.”

“The distance bothered him,” he added. “The ability for his dad and brother to get to home games really started to hit him. Ultimately that’s what drove him to decommitting and wanting to be closer to home.”

Watson, an All-Metro selection who averaged 29 points and seven rebounds as a junior, could help resupply Mizzou’s perimeter scoring should freshman Michael Porter Jr. enter the 2018 NBA draft, as expected. The Tigers will also have to replace senior Jordan Barnett when Watson could join the program for the 2018-19 season.

“They’re getting someone who will complete at the (shooting guard) spot right away,” Potsou said. “Obviously they’ve got other players there as well. But Torrence isn’t going to back down from competition. He’s 6-5 and 195 pounds and can score the ball at all three levels with consistency. He’s an extremely skilled wing and that’s what separates him from the other players I’ve seen.

“He’s a good athlete. He’s not an eye-popping athlete, but he’s certainly got the ability to score from deep. His midrange game is the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. He’s got the ability to make reads and make the right decisions at the right time and ultimately score points.”

Watson also considered SLU after decommiting from Ohio State, Potsou said.

“He really had great rapport with (SLU coach) Travis Ford and (assistant) Corey Tate and those guys have been classy throughout the entire process,” he said.

Watson is rated the state’s No. 3 player, behind Webster Groves teammates Carte’Are Gordon and Courtney Ramey, who are committed to SLU and Louisville, respectively.

Watson is just the latest target from within the state border or just beyond to commit to new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin. As part of Martin’s first recruiting class, he landed East St. Louis forward and current Tigers freshman Jeremiah Tilmon, who had signed with Illinois last fall. Mizzou has a 2018 commitment from former Belleville East guard Javon Pickett. The Porter brothers, current Mizzou freshmen Michael Jr. and Jontay, moved to Seattle last year but grew up in Columbia. The Tigers have three pledges for the 2018 class: Watson, Pickett and junior college guard K.J. Santos, who spent last season at Illinois-Chicago.