3. Akil Watson (4-star – #48 in 2023)
There have been multiple recruits I thought Illinois was going to land over the last eight months for the 2023 class. JJ Taylor was one of those recruits. Another player who Illinois had in their grasp was Akil Watson.
Watson is a 6-foot-8, 205-pound power forward from Roselle Catholic High School and resides in Roselle, New Jersey. He is rated as a four-star recruit and ranked as the No. 48 player in the class of 2023. He is also the No. 9 power forward in the nation and the No. 5 player coming out of New Jersey.
There are roughly 12 programs that have offered Watson a scholarship, but there is only one team that has secured an official visit. Back on December 10, Watson took one of his five official visits to Illinois. He visited Champaign, and I thought we had a solid chance of landing him after the visit.
That didn’t happen, though. Since that visit, Watson’s recruitment has gone quiet. He didn’t commit to Illinois, but his recruitment hasn’t picked up much steam just yet. This kid has a ton of talent, so I am shocked he hasn’t received numerous scholarships this offseason.
I think Illinois still has a legit shot at landing Watson. I assume he is just taking his recruitment slowly so he doesn’t miss anything. That is smart. Take in the entire landscape and then make a decision. The fact we got the first and, so far, the only official visit is important. Hopefully, the Illinois coaching staff continues to keep in contact with Watson.