FEATURE: Watson finds a nice fit at UMass
June 24, 2009
Jasmine Watson really liked that the University of Massachusetts women's basketball coaching staff told her what she needed to work on to improve her game.
It turned out to be a big reason why the former South Bend Washington center will join the Atlantic 10 program.
Watson, a 6-foot-3 post player, will head to Amherst to play for the Minutewomen starting in the 2009-10 season.
"I like the coaches there and I liked that they told me the things I needed to work on to get better as a player,'' Watson said. "They really recruited me. I know that I will be taken care of there, both academically and basketball.
"When I visited there, it was so peaceful and beautiful. I've always wanted to live by a big city. I can go out there and establish a place of my own and be independent. I like a challenge.''Watson helped the nationally-ranked Panthers to a 26-1 mark and a Class 4-A state runner-up finish in 2009. She averaged 11.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. She was a second-team All-NIC selection and second-team All-State choice by the ICGSA.
Watson sat out the first eight games of her senior season after being declared ineligible by the IHSAA, who ruled that her transfer from Elkhart Memorial was primarily for athletic reasons. Watson and her family challenged the ruling in court and a local judge overturned the IHSAA decision.
"I've put it behind me and have no regrets,'' said Watson of the turmoil surrounding her final year. "Everything happens for a reason. It made me stronger.''
Watson, who also received interest from schools such as Xavier, Cincinnati and Indiana, is one of three freshmen slated to join UMass next season.
"Jasmine will be a welcome addition to our frontcourt,'' said UMass coach Marnie Dacko on the school's website. "She will have an immediate impact on our team, giving us a solid post presence on the block. Jasmine has great hands, but also has the ability to hit 15-foot jump shots with consistency. She is a gym rat who has a real love for the game and will be a great asset for us.''Watson, who competed for the Washington track team this spring, is slated to report for summer school July 11.
"I plan to be in the gym every day now,'' said Watson last week while playing for the champion Metro All-Star team in Sports Fest. "My goal is to make sure the team does better next year than they did this year.''
UMass finished 12-18 overall and 5-9 in A-10 play last season.
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