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ASU Basketball: 4-star Akil Watson commits to the Sun Devils

Success on the trail

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Stanford at Arizona State Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Give it up to Bobby Hurley, he is among the nation’s best in recruiting high school basketball players.

Early on Wednesday morning, the Sun Devil basketball community was greeted with the exciting news of 4-star forward Akil Watson’s commitment, as first reported by Joe Tipton of

The 6-foot-8, 205 pound power forward hails from Roselle, New Jersey. Watson fielded offers from other notable schools such as Auburn, Illinois, and Creighton, among others.

A cursory look at the tape for Watson reveals a player who fits the modern style of what college coaches want in their forwards. Watson is long, and he uses his lanky frame as an advantage. He can slash inside and seems to glide over the hardwood when he gets in the lane.

A stretch-four in the most idealistic sense, he possesses the ability to step well outside and knock down shots. He is also a menace on the defensive side, with a keen ability to block opponent shots.

Watson seriously impressed during a summer appearance at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in South Carolina. For those unfamiliar with the Peach Jam, it’s a youth basketball circuit for elite players under the age of 17. The Peach Jam played host to former elite prospects Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, Scottie Barnes and Anthony Davis, to name just a sample.

The man who just committed to Arizona State had a game of 19 points and eight rebounds out there. He can run with the big dogs.

This is a big get for Bobby Hurley and company. First and foremost, Watson is a great talent for Hurley to build yet another Top-30 recruiting class around. Second, this commitment is a testament not only to Hurley’s ability to recruit elite talent, but also to his penchant for recruiting well with national range by nabbing Watson from New Jersey.

Keep this in mind as well, despite an absence of true postseason success, Hurley has recruited a Top-25 class four times. Expand that to a Top-30 class and it has been done five times. Five Top-30 classes in seven seasons. Hurley knows how to hit the trail, and evidence is on his side he can find equally elite talent to join Watson in the coming months.

Hurley hasn’t yet reaped what he has sowed on the recruiting side with tangible results yet. And certainly with the capricious nature of college basketball, every team starts nearly with a clean slate each fall, but the Sun Devils closed the regular season in 2021-22 on a very promising.

Hurley seemed to get back to his stingy roots with his defense-first coaching style, and his team responded well. Oftentimes a recruit is hyped based off offensive skillset, which Watson has plenty of, but if Hurley has committed himself to embracing the defensive side of the ball first, Watson can be a foundational two-way piece in a new era of Sun Devil basketball.