By Cam Huffman
This winter, Rondale Watson will do battle with Woodrow Wilson, Princeton, Bluefield and others as a senior point guard at Greenbrier East High School. When the temperatures turn cold the next time, he’ll be playing against Duke, North Carolina, Miami and Florida State.
Watson, who averaged 21.6 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals per game last season for the Spartans, gave his verbal commitment to Wake Forest Wednesday after a visit to the campus with his mother.
“They’ve been in touch with him a lot lately, and they brought their entire coaching staff to Greenbrier East (Tuesday),” said Greenbrier East head coach Jim Justice. “He visited there today, felt comfortable and made a decision. It’s a great day for Rondale and for Greenbrier East basketball.”
Watson can’t officially sign with the Demon Deacons until November, just before the start of the high school season, but Justice said his guard is firm in his decision.
“It takes a lot of pressure off,” said Justice, who will be entering his third season coaching the Greenbrier East boys team. “He can really enjoy his senior year and go out and play his best. Then he’ll get a chance to play in the ACC and get a great education. I don’t think anything beats the ACC.”
Watson had drawn interest from Marshall, WVU, Cincinnati, Georgia Southern and Xavier, among others, after an impressive summer of travel ball with the Mountain State Magic. He shined in tournaments in North Carolina and South Carolina and turned a number of heads.
“He’s got a good shot, and he’s worked really hard on improving it,” said Justice. “His ball handling has also improved. He’s 6-3 and can jump out of the gym. Wake was looking for a 2-guard who could score, and they found one.”
According to Justice, the senior’s on-court skills were only part of the equation. Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik and his staff wanted to know exactly what type of person they were going to be getting before they made a scholarship offer.
“There’s plenty of talent out there,” said Justice. “But every one of the coaches wants kids that will work hard and do the right things. It honestly weighs almost 50-50.
“He’s a great kid. He has a determination and a grit to win, and that’s really important. There’s no question he’s an incredible talent. He hasn’t always had the deck stacked in his favor, but he’s a great kid. The coaches just loved his smile.”
Bzdelik is in his fourth season at Wake Forest. He’s been the head coach at Maryland-Baltimore County, the Air Force Academy and the University of Colorado in previous stops. He also spent 17 seasons in the NBA.
Bzdelik was the lead scout for the New York Knicks for a year before becoming the director of scouting for the Miami Heat for six seasons. After one season as a scout for the Denver Nuggets, he was named the team’s head coach in 2003, and he spent three seasons in that position.
Last year, the Demon Deacons finished 13-18 overall and 6-12 in ACC play.
— E-mail: chuffman@
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