POSTED: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 9:55pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 7:47pm
UTEP Coach Tim Floyd announced the signings of forwards Twymond Howard (Pearl, Miss./Pearl HS) & Chris Washburn Jr. (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie HS) and guard Dustin Watts (Seattle, Wash./O’Dea HS) to national letters of intent on Tuesday. The trio of high school stars will join the Miners for the 2012-13 season.
“We think we have added three really quality players, guys who we’re tremendously excited about,” Floyd said. “We’ve typically been able to play two point guards at the same time. We’ve been able to play small, and we’ve been able to play big.
“We had teams at USC that started four perimeter players. We’ve been trying to build towards that. We feel like we’re in a position now to develop an inside game with Hooper [Vint] and Cedrick [Lang] and [John] Bohannon and Chris Washburn, who can play both in and out. We’re getting there. It’s going to take time because we chose to go with freshmen, and we’re going to be patient with these young guys and try to let them make mistakes and grow.”
The 6-6, 210-pound Howard had junior averages of 23 points, 12 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.5 steals, with a .580 field goal percentage, .390 three-point field goal percentage and .670 free throw percentage. He was a second team All-State honoree and was named to the Clarion Ledger “Dandy Dozen” as one of the top 12 players in the state of Mississippi entering his senior year. He is rated a four-star recruit, the no. 14 small forward in the country and the no. 69 player nationally by Rivals.com. He is also regarded as a four-star prospect by Scout.com, as well as the no. 20 small forward nationally.
“Twymond can play two guard or small forward. He’s playing point for his high school team. He had 42 points and 14 rebounds in his opener and made seven threes,” Floyd said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a very versatile guy who can defend three positions. We think he has very good basketball instincts that are only going to improve as he totally commits himself to basketball. This is only the second year that he has not played football as well.”
The 6-8, 240-pound Washburn collected 13.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per contest during the 2010-11 season. He made 60.8 percent of his shots and 60.1 percent of his free throws as the Warriors finished 23-9. The brother of current Miner freshman Julian Washburn and son of former NBA player Chris Washburn, he is rated the no. 31 power forward in the class of 2012 by Rivals.com. Scout.com lists him as a four-star prospect and the no. 23 center in the country.
“Chris can score it on the block. He’s really quick off his feet,” Floyd said. “He’s got all of the low post moves. He can step out, face and shoot it, and passes the ball exceptionally well. He was basically offered by everybody in the Big 12 except Kansas, Texas and maybe Baylor. We think we have stolen a really good player. He wanted to play with his brother and we’re grateful that Julian is here. We’re going to try to do a good job with him when he is here and we think he has tremendous upside.”
The 6-4, 175-pound Watts garnered All-State and All-League honors as a junior a year ago. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.6 blocks and 2.7 steals, shooting 52.2 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from three-point range and 88.2 percent from the line. He led O’Dea High to a 25-4 record.
“Dustin is a legitimate 6-4 ½ point guard,” Floyd said. “He will allow us to play two point guards at a time and he is a guy who can score it. He had 35 points in his season opener. But he also has good vision and can create at the point. We feel he has the potential to be an outstanding defender, too.”
The Miners will play at I-10 rival NM State on Saturday at 6 p.m.