Undrafted Watford hopes for chance with Pacers
Two of Christian Watford's Indiana University teammates walked the stage at the NBA draft June 27th in New York City to greet Commissioner David Stern. Victor Oladipo went to the Orlando Magic with the 2nd overall pick. Cody Zeller went to the Charlotte Bobcats with the 4th overall pick.
Watford never heard his name through two rounds. He expected to be drafted. He thought the Indiana Pacers might use their second round draft pick on him.
"Very disappointing," said Watford. "I felt like I did a great job at the pre-draft camp. I was getting all the right feedback. Things just didn't work out. But you can't hang your head now. You just got to keep going."
The Pacers sold the 53rd pick to the Celtics, leaving Watford a free agent. The Pacers were one of eight teams that invited the bearded forward to rookie/free agent camp. After four years in Bloomington, Watford sees Indiana as his second home and saw the Pacers as his best NBA opportunity.
"It would be great," said Watford. "There are a lot of people that love me here, definitely. It would be a great opportunity for me. I would definitely seize the moment to be a Pacer."
The Pacers opened rookie and free agent camp at the Fieldhouse Wednesday. Watford is one of 19 players in camp. The Pacers will trim the roster and take a squad down to Orlando next week for the NBA summer league. Games begin Sunday.
Watford will always be known for making the three point shot to beat Kentucky on December 10, 2011. The victory signaled the return of IU basketball as a major player in college hoops. Watford averaged 13 points and four rebounds during his college career.
"He's got to come in and prove he belongs," said Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke, who is coaching the summer league team. "What he did at IU doesn't mean anything. There are guys in here that have been all over the world playing. He better show them he belongs and prove to himself, and then come a little more confident tomorrow and build on that and raise his effort every day."
Watford is no longer the IU star, just another rookie.
"College and professional sports are just totally different, period," said Watford. "At this level, you just have to want it more bad than the next guy."