Rundown: Ibi Watson to Michigan

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan added a commitment from class of 2016 guard Ibi Watson this afternoon. Here’s everything you need to know about Michigan’s latest commitment.


Ibi Watson has been on Michigan’s radar for quite a while now, but he really emerged this spring when he impressed at Michigan’s College Practice Camp and Team Camp in June. His strong play at the camps piqued Michigan’s interest and when combined with Tyus Battle’s decommitment, led to Michigan coaches tracking Watson consistently throughout July.

He earned MVP honors at the Best of the South tournament in Suwanee, GA during the opening weekend of the live period with John Beilein watching. He followed that up with strong performances at the NY2LA Summer Jam and AAU Nationals. John Beilein or one of his assistants were in attendance at the majority of Watson’s games. Indiana jumped in with an offer after the first week, but Michigan evaluated throughout the period.

Watson credited his July blow up to a newly discovered aggression and motor while he was on the floor.

“I think (the new interest) is more from high school team camps and stuff where I started playing more aggressive and playing with more confidence and swagger,” he said. “That’s what all the high-major coaches were telling me that I was missing was that aggressive go get it attitude. Now that I’m starting to play with that I think that’s what’s kind of separated me.”

Two days after the July period wrapped up, John Beilein had seen enough. The Wolverines extended an offer and Watson committed on Tuesday.

Watson started his prep career in Athens, OH, but burst onto the radar at Pickerington Central – the same school that produced current Wolverine senior Caris LeVert. He averaged 12 points per game on the Nike EYBL circuit with All-Ohi oREd and shot 32.4% from three-point range this summer.

Rankings & Offers

Watson played his way onto the recruiting radar this spring and summer and is the 247 Sports Composite No. 213 ranked player in the class of 2016.

He held offers from Indiana, Akron, Dayton, UMass, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Ohio and Western Kentucky and had added high-major interest from Florida, VCU and Missouri during July.

  • Rivals: N/R
  • ESPN: Three-star
  • Scout: Three-star
  • 247: Three-star, No. 201
  • 247 Composite: Three-star, No. 213



Watson is a 6-foot-5 wing known for his length and shooting ability.

We had the chance to watch Watson at College Practice Camp this June:

The Pickerington native had a great camp. He’s a smooth and explosive wing who plays for All-Ohio Red and was part of the reason that John Beilein gave out a shout out to the Columbus players in attendance. Watson can hit the triple or attack off the bounce and played well throughout the camp.

Zach Fleer of Prep Hoops Ohio wrote us this report on Watson’s game:

Ibi is a big-time wing guard prospect whose best days of basketball are still ahead of him. With great length and athleticism, Watson is a three-level scorer that has only continued to get better as he has strengthened his body and gotten tougher. He’s another big get for Michigan out of Pickerington Central, the same school that produced Caris LeVert. Watson has really elevated his game since moving to Pickerington prior to his junior season to compete in one of Ohio’s toughest conferences (OCC-Ohio) after playing at rural Athens for two years. Watson comes from a great support system and I give a lot of credit to his mother, Molina Watson, for the type of exceptional young man that he’s grown to be.

Rivals was also impressed with his play this summer:

Wisconsin Playground Elite controlled much of the first half and held a 28-22 lead at the half, but that’s when All-Ohio Red came storming back with the help of shooting guard Ibi Watson, who dropped 17 points as his team lit up the second half and secured a 69-58 victory.

The 6-foot-4 Watson showed off his full arsenal of talents by dropping three 3-point field goals, driving to the basket and creating, being active on the glass, and using his length to be a disruptor on defense by blocking a couple of shots and forcing a couple of steals.

Fit and Outlook

Watson is Michigan’s third commitment in the class of 2016, joining big men Austin Davis and Jon Teske, and he’ll fill the slot that the Wolverines had penciled in for a wing guard in this class.

Expect Michigan coaches to focus entirely on landing a point guard to round out the class with Cassius Winston being the top priority. Winston has set his official visits and will trip to Ann Arbor for Michigan’s football game against UNLV. He’ll also visit Michigan State, Stanford, Harvard and Pittsburgh.

On the court, Watson might not be expected to make the same sort of immediate impact that most would have expected from a five-star prospect like Tyus Battle, but he should still fill a similar role. Watson is a shot maker with length that should supplement the other offensive options that the Wolverines have on the wings — including Aubrey Dawkins, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Kameron Chatman and Duncan Robinson — returning upcoming seasons.

Watson might not be highly rated — yet — but his offer and commitment certainly wasn’t rushed. Michigan had ample opportunity to evaluate him both in-person at camps and watching at tournaments and the Wolverine coaching staff clearly likes what it sees in the 6-foot-5 wing.

  • nswan

    Not super thrilled about the pick-up. I think he is going to be a really good player, but I was really hoping for a stellar athlete somewhere in this class (maybe underestimating Watson on this). I dont think we got that with Watson, Teske, or Davis. We still have room for one maybe at the point, but if Winston is our goal, then it looks like my hopes have been dashed. Individually I like all of the recruits, just wish there was something different when you look at them as a group.

  • TreysBlockWasClean

    Dylan, do you think that the Watson signing means we have given up on pursuing Bridges? Unless something unusual happens to the scholarship situation, we are now very obviously limited to signing a point guard.

  • bobohle

    Another opportunity for Beilein to work his magic with a 3 star commit. We shall see.

  • Fresh

    From the videos he seems like he has real good vision makes some solid passes.

    Obviously would work well coming off screens

    Lots of potential but you can see why the coaches want him to be more aggressive. He seems to play to casual.

    This kid will be good

  • David Remmler

    WhIle it would be nice to land higher rated recruits, I am very happy with this pick up. Based on more recent performances, he will have a major bump up in the rankings. I would not be surprised if he was a top 100 4 star when rankings are updated. Regardless, if Beilein likes him enough to offer then I think he’s a good kid and a winner. And he’s just the type of player that we need to build a championship team. He may not be a 5 star sure thing superstar but he’s not a late addition gamble either.