Oregon center Kylee Watson latest transfer to boost Notre Dame women's basketball roster

By Anthony Anderson
ND Insider
Former Oregon center Kylee Watson (22) announced her transfer to Notre Dame Tuesday night.

Notre Dame grew its women’s basketball roster, grew the size quotient on that roster and grew its New Jersey connection with one social media post late Tuesday night.

“(B)lessed & highly favored. let’s work,” forward Kylee Watson declared in a tweet that announced she’ll be joining the Irish. “@ndwbb #committed.”

The 6-foot-4 Watson is coming off a sophomore season in which she averaged 3.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 16.4 minutes while appearing in every game for 20-12 Oregon. She started nine of those games.

Watson shot a team-leading 54.8% from the field, but was just 18-of-44 from the line for 40.9%.

She hails from Linwood, N.J., the same home state as ND starting guards Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey.

► More:Notre Dame women add Stanford transfer Jenna Brown to roster

► More:Notre Dame's Maya Dodson on NCAA denial: 'There wasn’t any way to persuade them otherwise'

Watson’s Twitter announcement featured photos of her in Irish wear, including one in which she was accompanied by the team’s coaching staff and another in which she posed with Miles, Mabrey and fellow returning ND starters Sonia Citron and Maddy Westbeld.

“(T)oo happy,” Miles wrote in her own post while sharing Watson’s tweet.

“like I told you, (you) will forever be my favorite player to play with,” Watson then responded to Miles. “let’s do the dang thing my love.”

Watson was the second transfer of the day whose commitment to Notre Dame became known, after the school itself announced the addition of grad-student guard Jenna Brown from Stanford earlier in the afternoon.

In Watson, ND added a more parallel-style replacement for Maya Dodson, a 6-3 post who earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors for coach Niele Ivey’s Irish this past winter.

Dodson had her appeal for another season of eligibility denied by the NCAA earlier this month and was subsequently taken with the 26th overall pick in the WNBA draft by Phoenix.

Mar 4, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Oregon Ducks forward Kylee Watson (22) shoots against Utah Utes forward Kelsey Rees (53) during the first quarter at Michelob Ultra Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Watson — who is expected to have three years of eligibility remaining because she played in the 2020-21 pandemic-related season — was the No. 17-ranked recruit nationally in the high school class of 2020 by ESPN, as well as a McDonald’s All-American.

She proceeded to average 8.2 minutes, 2.2 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks while appearing in 18 games as a freshman for the 15-9 Ducks.

While her minutes doubled this past season, she still didn’t have the impact some forecasted when she first arrived at Oregon.

Watson joined classmates, fellow top-20 recruits and regulars Sydney Parrish and Maddie Scherr, along with two other players, as Ducks who opted to transfer at season’s end. Parrish, a former Indiana Miss Basketball at Hamilton Southeastern, recently signed with IU.

As a high schooler, Watson, just like Miles and Mabrey, played for a New Jersey state champion. Miles won with Blair Academy and Mabrey twice at Manasquan.

Watson graduated from Linwood’s Mainland High School, where her mom, the former Courtney Neall, was an assistant coach. Courtney played collegiately at Delaware.

Her father, Tim Watson, owns a hearty sports background as well. He played college football at Maryland and Rowan (Glassboro, N.J.) before being taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft as a defensive tackle by Seattle.

He later posted a 71-27 record as head football coach at Cedar Creek High in Egg Harbor City with a pair of New Jersey state championships.

Following the additions of Watson and Brown, ND’s known scholarship roster count now stands at eight players.

That includes the four returning starters from last season’s 24-9, Sweet 16 club in Miles, Mabrey, Citron and Westbeld, plus lone incoming freshman KK Bransford — a guard and two-time Ohio Ms. Basketball from Cincinnati — and junior forward Nat Marshall, who is coming off late-January knee surgery.

Since the season ended, backups Sam Brunelle, Anaya Peoples, Abby Prohaska and Katlyn Gilbert all have entered the transfer portal, with Brunelle since landing at Virginia and Peoples at DePaul.