Watson intends to return the favor, with plans to visit Illinois, Purdue and others before making his decision, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman.
He'll have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out next season due to transfer rules.
Watson averaged 13.3 points, 7.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2013-14. He scored seven points on 3-of-12 shooting against the Illini in the Terriers NIT opening round loss. It's clear by his action that Coach John Groce is interested in Watson.
What's not known is how Watson fits in with the Illini.
There are currently no scholarships available. Groce was asked about roster management earlier this week.
His responses were vague.
"Well right now we're working everybody out," Groce said. "Everybody is working really, really hard. We've got all guys that return working out with our skill stuff. If you're asking me are we continuing to recruit — every day, 12 months a year, 365 days a year."
The Illini have had success with transfers since Groce arrived. Sam McLaurin and Jon Ekey played vital roles as graduate transfers. Rayvonte Rice, Aaron Cosby, Ahmad Starks and Darius Paul, all transfers who sat out a year after arriving, will be on the roster for next season.
With more and more transfers flooding the college basketball landscape, it's an avenue Illinois will continue to look down.
"We're always aware," Groce said. "Our assistant coaches' jobs is to be aware of what's going on in recruiting."
It's a bridge that may not have to be crossed should he choose elsewhere, but it's not yet known how the Illini would accommodate if Watson picked Illinois.
Groce couldn't comment specifically about the situation, but spoke in general terms.
"We're aware of the landscape," Groce said. "We'll continue to evaluate our team and have the meetings."