WATSON TO BE INDUCTED INTO SOUTHERN NEVADA SPORTS HALL OF FAME

(Courtesy / UT Athletics)

WATSON TO BE INDUCTED INTO SOUTHERN NEVADA SPORTS HALL OF FAME

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Former University of Tennessee men’s basketball standout C.J. Watson will join the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame (SNSHF) next week.

The class of 2024, the 26th in the SNSHF’s history, will be formally inducted during a ceremony set for June 14 at Lee’s Family Forum in Henderson, Nev.

Watson is among five honorees, joining boxing referee Kenny Bayless, golfer Brady Exber and the broadcasting executive duo of Tony Bonnici and Jesse Leeds. The SNSHF includes prior members such as tennis player Andre Agassi, pitcher Greg Maddux, running back DeMarco Murray and basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, among many other notables.

A native of Las Vegas, Watson graduated from Bishop Gorman High School. There, he won two 4A state titles and two Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year distinctions.

Watson joined the Volunteers in 2002 and played on Rocky Top for four seasons, through 2006. He played his first three years for Buzz Peterson and then his final campaign, 2005-06, under Bruce Pearl and helped Tennessee to a 22-8 (12-4 SEC) record, an NCAA Tournament Round of 32 bid and an AP top-20 finish.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder started 118 of the 119 games in which he appeared as a Volunteer. He averaged 12.0 points per game for a total of 1,424, a figure that still stands No. 21 in program history 18 years later.

The talented floor general averaged 4.8 assists per game and accumulated 577 total. Those tallies remain fourth- and second-best, respectively, in Tennessee history. Watson paced the Volunteers in assists four consecutive years, one of just three players ever to do so, alongside Johnny Darden (1975-79) and Tony Harris (1997-2001). His 1.82 assist-to-turnover ratio still places seventh at Tennessee.

An excellent defender as well, Watson averaged 1.66 steals per outing and compiled 198 total. Those numbers still put him fifth and third, respectively, all-time among Volunteers. He thrice led the team in steals, one of three players in program history to do so, alongside Fred Jenkins (four times; 1983-87) and Vincent Yarbrough (1999-2002).

Additionally, Watson posted a dazzling 39.6 percent 3-point clip during his Tennessee career, the sixth-best mark ever by a Volunteer.

A Second Team All-SEC pick in 2005-06, Watson averaged a career-best 15.3 points per game that season. He was also tabbed to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2002-03.

Following his standout college career, Watson spent parts of two seasons in Italy, Greece and what was then called the NBA D-League. In 2008, Watson joined the Golden State Warriors to begin his NBA career and remained in the league for a decade.

Over the course of his 10 seasons at the highest level of the sport, Watson appeared in 600 games and made 104 starts. He averaged 7.2 points and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range.

In 2011-12, while with the Chicago Bulls, Watson received votes for both NBA Most Improved Player and NBA 6th Man of the Year. He participated in 48 playoff games across four seasons and twice reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

In addition to the Warriors and Bulls, Watson also played for Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic. Following the conclusion of his NBA career in 2018, Watson spent part of one season playing in Turkey.

Watson is the second Tennessee basketball alumnus to be enshrined in a state hall of fame this year, as former coach Don DeVoe earned induction into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in April.

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