On the banks of the Red Cedar, recruiting never stops. We’re here every step of the way to keep you informed with our daily notebook. Recruiting questions? Comment below or direct them to email@example.com and we’ll do our best to get them answered.
Mark “Rocket” Watts doesn’t play football anymore, but the nickname remains.
The 6-foot-2 Detroit Old Redford combo guard won’t blow you away with his size, but he’ll blow by you with his speed. A 3-star prospect in the 2019 class per the 247Sports composite, Watts has seen his basketball recruitment explode in the days following the first Nike EYBL session in Hampton, Va.
He entered with offers from Detroit, Mississippi State and Oakland. He has added Georgia Tech, Marquette and Michigan State to the list. As an in-state player whom Michigan and Michigan State have recruited harder than any other schools, the move made by the Spartans meant a lot.
— Rocket Watts jr 🔋 (@kingJay79) April 23, 2017
“I like the coaching staff, Coach OG [assistant Mike Garland] and [head coach Tom] Izzo,” Watts said. “[Izzo is] very cool, and he seems like a coach that stays on you a lot. That’s really what I need.”
Watts has been getting coached up by Izzo since his freshman season at now-defunct Detroit Allen Academy. He has never had trouble scoring, but the Spartans coach told him he needed to pick up his defense. That message was taken to heart.
It led to an offer. The EYBL does not publish stats from its 16U league, in which Watts plays for The Family, but he felt he played “very well.” More so than the 25 points he recorded, Watts was proud of his 8 rebounds and tough defense.
“[Izzo] likes the way that I score the ball, and he saw in the last game I played, I picked up my defense,” Watts said. “He told me that I picked up my defense a lot, and he told me I’m going to get stronger and faster.”
Sequence From Last Night, Rashad Williams HITS A THREE and Right Back Mark "Rocket" Watts Jr Comes Back Down With A Step-back Deep Three !! pic.twitter.com/sSi3vO7lLW
— Hoop Films 🎞 (@ThatGuy_Mondo) December 22, 2016
Watts said he models his game after Wizards guard John Wall and a little bit of Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. He’s working on adding the speed, strength and bounce to be able to play more like them.
Watts doesn’t have any childhood rooting interests that will affect his decision. He focuses more on people. He likes Michigan State because of his relationship with the staff, and he likes Michigan because he has watched former Wolverines point guard and Detroit native Derrick Walton Jr. play for many years.
As for a Michigan offer, he said, “I really can’t say right now. They’ve been recruiting me hard. Most likely it’s gonna come, and I’m gonna keep on working hard until then.”
This looks like a two-team battle, but with colleges steadily entering the mix it likely won’t stay that way. Wherever he ends up, Watts knows what he wants.
“Really I just want to come in, get better and play right away.”
MSU football offers three from one school
Michigan State made the most of a visit to New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep on Tuesday by offering three standouts, namely a pair of 2018 defensive linemen.
Tyler Friday, a 4-star junior and the No. 2 defensive tackle in the nation, added a Spartans offer to his long list. MSU joins Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee, among others.
Extremely blessed to receive offer #19 from Michigan State 🏈🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/sLqkK0OmOF
— Big Smooth (@almighty_ty5) April 25, 2017
His teammate, 3-star defensive end Marcellus Earlington, also picked up an offer. He doesn’t hold quite as daunting an offer list as Friday, but Georgia, North Carolina and Penn State have all joined the mix.
— Marcellus Earlington (@realdealcellus) April 25, 2017
And the Spartans also extended an offer to a youngster in the 2020 class, Jalen Berger. The freshman running back/wide receiver had already announced offers from Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers and Syracuse. Add the Spartans to the list.
Blessed & Excited To Receive My 5th Offer From Michigan State….. pic.twitter.com/L5SesfSdPn
— Jalen Berger (@BergerKesha) April 25, 2017
Michigan State has landed a Don Bosco alumnus before. Former defensive lineman James Kittredge, a Vanderbilt transfer, appeared in 16 games for MSU over three years.
Back to the Peach State
It seems like Georgia is becoming the Spartans’ home state.
Michigan State offered yet another prospect from the state on Tuesday in Allatoona (Acworth, Ga.) defensive end Royce Francis. It is Francis’ first scholarship offer.
— Allatoona Football (@ahsbucsfootball) April 25, 2017
One has to imagine that with no other competitors at this point, the Spartans must feel good about their chances of reeling in Francis. But now that the secret has gotten out, it would be no surprise to see others jump in.