Anthony Watson (basketball)

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Anthony Watson
Personal information
Born (1964-09-25) September 25, 1964 (age 52)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight 170 lb (77 kg)
Career information
High school Cooley (Detroit, Michigan)
College San Diego State (1982–1986)
NBA draft 1986 / Round: 4 / Pick: 87th overall
Selected by the Denver Nuggets
Position Guard
Career history
1986–1987 La Crosse Catbirds
1988–? Athletes in Action
Career highlights and awards

Anthony Scott Watson (born September 25, 1964)[1][2] is an American former professional basketball player. He played college basketball for San Diego State University (SDSU). He led the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in scoring in 1986, when he was named the WAC Player of the Year. Watson was named twice to both the All-WAC first team as well the All-WAC Tournament Team. He finished his Aztec career with the school record for most points scored in a game (54), and left with the second-most career points (1,735) in school history.

Watson was drafted by the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the fourth round of the 1986 NBA Draft with the 87th overall pick. He did not make the team, but went on to play professionally in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) as well as for Athletes in Action.

Early life[edit]

Watson was born in Chicago to Shirley Watson and Edward Johnson. He developed close relationships with his parents, who never married. Watson grew up for 12 years in Chicago, raised mostly by his grandmother, Oaral May Watson. She became one of the biggest influences in his life. Watson began playing basketball in Chicago, but his best memories of the city were of jumping on trains running 5 to 10 mph (8.0 to 16.1 kilometres per hour) from tracks blocks away from his home, and riding on the outside of the train to a swimming pool a few miles away. In the eighth grade, Watson moved to Detroit with his mother and her new husband, a Baptist minister, with whom Watson also developed a good relationship.[1]

Watson played basketball at Cooley High School in Detroit. As a senior, he averaged 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists—earning all-state honors.[3] Most outside observers anticipated that he would play college basketball nearby at Michigan, joining Cooley teammate Roy Tarpley. However, Watson wanted to play immediately, and instead chose to move 2,000 miles (3,200 km) west to play for the SDSU Aztecs.[1][3]

College career[edit]

As a freshman, Watson made his first start in the ninth game of the season, scoring 26 points in a 89–85 win over Florida State.[3] Aztecs coach Smokey Gaines made the switch after not getting enough production from the team's senior guards.[1] Watson started the final 20 games of the season while averaging 11.4 points.[3] At the beginning of his sophomore year in September 1983, Watson was declared academically ineligible. While his grade point average was sufficient, he was ruled to lack "quality points"—used to determine whether a student is on schedule to graduate with their class—in his coursework, despite the semester of summer school he recently finished. Not allowed to take classes at SDSU, he enrolled in accelerated classes at San Diego Mesa College. Since he was not longer on scholarship, he worked at a gas station to pay for school. Busy with study and work, he had no time to play basketball. In December, he regained his eligibility, but already missed the first five games of the season.[1] Impacted by his inactivity, he did not re-enter the starting lineup until mid-January.[3] He shot just 39 percent while averaging 10.5 points that season, and later regretted not having redshirted.[1]

The following season in 1984–85, Watson was an All-WAC first team selection after leading the team in scoring with a 17.5 average. He was twice named the WAC player of the week, and also was honored as Sports Illustrated's national player of the week. The Aztecs were 11–5 in the conference and won the WAC Tournament, where Watson was named to the All-WAC Tournament Team. SDSU's season record of 23–8 was at the time their best record ever as a Division I team. They qualified for the 1985 NCAA Tournament, their first invite in nine years.[4] In their first-round loss to the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, Watson scored 19 points and had six assists.[5][6]

Before the start of his senior season, Watson ran into teammate Creon Dorsey during practice and suffered a split in the webbing between the middle and index fingers of his right hand. The injury needed 10 stitches and had to be wrapped heavily with gauze and tape. The Aztecs started the season 0–7, and Watson was averaging around 17 points through the first five weeks. He was frustrated with his injury and the team's poor start. Furthermore, injuries to two frontcourt players forced the team to move him out of position from guard to small forward, where the 6-foot-3-inch (1.91 m) Watson faced stronger players standing around 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m). When Steffond Johnson returned to the lineup in mid-January, Watson was able to move back outside. His hand had also healed, and his play improved.[1] He set the Aztecs' school record for most points scored in a game (54) against U.S. International University on February 20, 1986.[7][8] His 22 free throws that night were also a record. Watson was again named to the All-WAC Tournament team after the Aztecs ended their season with a 78–75 loss to the UTEP Miners in the conference tournament.[9] He finished the season as the WAC's scoring champion with a 22.5 point average,[9] becoming the first Aztec since Kim Goetz in 1979 to lead the conference in scoring.[1] Watson was named to the All-WAC first team and won the WAC Player of the Year.[9][10] He also received honorable mention All-American honors from the Associated Press.[9]

Watson finished his career at SDSU as the second leading scorer (1,735) in school history behind Michael Cage.[5] He also left with a school record of 702 career field goals.[9]

Professional career[edit]

Watson was drafted in the fourth round of the 1986 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets.[11] Though he played mostly shooting guard in college, Watson at only 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) was projected as a point guard.[12][13] He was cut by the Nuggets in training camp after they acquired another guard, Darrell Walker.[13] He played professionally for one season with the La Crosse Catbirds of the CBA before joining Athletes in Action in 1988.[2][14][15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Bass, Michael (February 16, 1986). "Anthony Watson: He knows how to put the ball in the basket". The San Diego Union. p. H-1. 
  2. ^ a b 1987-88 CBA Official Guide and Register, page 318
  3. ^ a b c d e Dolan, Steve (March 4, 1986). "Anthony Watson : SDSU Senior Has Ups and Downs but Leaves Home With a Record". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ Zieralski, Ed (April 13, 1985). "Aztecs awarded for best basketball season". The Evening Tribune. p. B-5. 
  5. ^ a b Graney, Ed (March 16, 2006). "Tournament stars". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ Wong, May 2010, p.182
  7. ^ Dolan, Steve (February 21, 1986). "Watson Gets 54 Points, Sets Records in Aztec Victory". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  8. ^ Wong, Darin; May, Mike (2010). "2010-11 SDSU Men's Basketball Media Guide (History)" (PDF). San Diego State University. p. 168. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Zieralski, Ed (March 11, 1986). "WAC Player of Year: Watson calls honor 'highest tribute'". The Evening Tribune. p. C-1. 
  10. ^ "San Diego State's Watson Gets Another MVP Award in Basketball". Los Angeles Times. April 5, 1986. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Denver Nuggets Draft Picks". Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ Bass, Michael (June 18, 1986). "Two Aztecs selected in draft Watson goes to Nuggets, Johnson to Clippers". The San Diego Union. p. D-7. 
  13. ^ a b Reinman, T.R. (November 1, 1986). "Wasn't elementary for Watson". The San Diego Evening Tribune. p. B-7. 
  14. ^ Bucher, Ric (November 2, 1988). "Ex-Aztec striking it rich with AIA Watson revives his game, life". The San Diego Union. p. E-5. 
  15. ^ Slocum, Bob (November 24, 1988). "AIA finally getting taste of how losing teams feel". The Evening Tribune. p. E-12. Some of the new AIA faces include former Aztecs star Anthony Watson, who was WAC Player of the Year in 1986; Rod Foster, UCLA's 10th all-time leading scorer who played three seasons for the Phoenix Suns; Forrest McKenzie, Loyola Marymount's all-time leading scorer; and former all-Pac-10 stars out of Arizona, John Edgar and Eddie Smith.