A pair of Indiana players -- Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller -- have been center stage during the buildup to the 2013 NBA Draft, and for good reason. Both are dynamic athletes, and both are expected to come off the board quickly, possibly in the Top 10.
But there's another Hoosier who's got a big summer ahead of him: Christian Watford.
Watford is one of the more under-appreciated players in recent Indiana history. Despite starting four years, scoring 1,730 points and coming up with possibly the biggest shot in school history, Watford was never fully embraced by Indiana fans -- or at least that's how I perceived it.
It was common to see Hoosier fans pick apart the 6-foot-8 forward's game on message boards, labeling Watford as an inconsistent, nonchalant player who didn't bring "it" every night. He was branded as that type of player early on, and he never fully shook it.
While Indiana fans were so consumed with looking for negatives in his game, they overlooked gobs of positives.
For his career -- I repeat: FOR HIS CAREER -- Watford shot 42 percent from the 3-point line and averaged 5.8 rebounds while hitting 82 percent of his free throws. His defense improved drastically throughout his career, and he was able to defend multiple positions. As a junior, Tom Crean put him on Keith Appling and Trey Burke, and he roughed it up down low with Trevor Mbakwe this past season.
Watford was really, really good, and Indiana will miss his shooting, defensive versatility and toughness on the glass.
His size and ability to shoot the basketball make him a lock to play professionally. Whether or not that will be in the NBA remains to be seen. If he does get selected in this month's draft, it won't be until late in the second round, but the more likely occurrence is that he goes undrafted.
If that happens, it's far from a death sentence for Watford's career. After the draft, he will go to a couple NBA camps and latch on to someone's summer league team. From there, he could be signed, head to the D-League or play over in Europe. The NBA is littered with players who took unconventional routes to the league.
As for now, Watford is making the rounds and working out for several NBA teams, the last of which was a workout for the Washington Wizards earlier this week. Here's a link to a video clip of the Wizards broadcast team talking about Watford and then bringing him on set for an interview. (Warning: the video, with sound, will start playing when the window opens.)
It's going to be so much fun to see two Indiana guys get their names called in the lottery. Indiana fans, myself included, will thoroughly enjoy following Zeller and Oladipo throughout their NBA careers.
But I urge you not to forget about Watford. He had an outstanding career, and did a lot for Indiana over the past four years.