Stephanie Watts says she would play basketball all day, every day if she could.While the 15-year-old sophomore point guard does have a life off the court, she spends most of her free time in a gym – from her high school, to Carolina Courts, to her own backyard.Watts’ passion for the basketball started in her backyard, where she developed her love affair for the game. She learned from her older brother, Brandon, 17, now the leading scorer (at 13 point per game) on Weddington High’s boys basketball team and her father, Stephen, who played college basketball at Long Island University.“I grew up always wanting to be as good as my brother and dad. And I definitely learned a lot by losing a lot of games, especially to Brandon,” Stephanie said.She lived in Westchester, N.Y., until fifth grade.“But I think all those experiences made me a lot tougher and better. ... I really developed a passion for the game. Without that, I don’t think I would be the player I am today,” she said.Watts wasted no time in proving just how good she could be – scoring 22 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out six assists and making eight steals, all in her first high school game as a freshman. And Watts didn’t slow down all year. She averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks – earning Southern Carolinas conference (SCC) Player of the Year.Watts set six school records, including the most points (458), blocks (52) and three-pointers (70) in a single-season.“I think we all knew Stephanie had a lot of talent after watching her play for the middle school team,” Weddington girls’ basketball coach Ryun Cook said. “But I think even we were surprised at how good she was, so fast. She is very a special player, and we are glad she’s on our team.”Watts has worked even harder this past summer and fall. She grew two inches – from 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 – and is getting “noticeably stronger,” Cook said.She has also stepped up her game. Watts now averages 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, six steals and three blocks per game; she has helped her team to a 15-4 record, including 4-1 in the SCC as of Feb. 1.After starting 3-3 with a brutal nonconference slate including Ardrey Kell and Jay M. Robinson, Weddington won 12 of their last 13 games.Watts has been nothing short of spectacular as she had 50 points in the third game of the season against Cuthbertson, following that in the very next game against Cox Mill (a 74-32 Weddington win) with a rare (on any level) quadruple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 12 steals. Watts, who has 12 games of 20-plus and four of 30-plus points, has continued her exceptional play in conference with 37 points in a win over Parkwood and 32 in a win against Anson.“A lot of people look at the points she scores and think that’s what she’s all about,” Cook said. “But she does everything well and can dominate a game in all phases. She just gravitates to the ball and seems to always make a big play.”Watts’ play already has college scouts drooling. Auburn, Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech have offered her a scholarship; schools like Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia have also shown interest.North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell recently came to a Weddington practice.“It’s really cool to have all the college coaches come to see me play,” Watts said. “But it’s still so early. I’m just a sophomore, and I feel like I still have a lot to prove. If I think about college coaches, I might not play as well. So I just focus on playing basketball the way I know how.”Watts can’t get enough basketball, as she usually practices at least two times a day from her Warrior team to her AAU team, the Charlotte Razzle; she even works out with Brandon’s AAU team, Team United.In the next month, Watts will focus on helping her Weddington team, which also gets big contributions from seniors Kelsie Croal and Olivia Jenkins – as well as junior Bailee Carter (12 points per game) and freshmen Jada Craig and Molly Mann.The first goal is to win the conference title. Then Weddington wants to be a factor in the state playoffs, where they haven’t been since the 2009-10 season.
Friday, Feb. 01, 2013
Sophmore Watts, Weddington team show growth
Sophomore point guard has team on a roll
Point guard Stephanie Watts has played a key role on the Weddington girls' team. They have won 12 of their past 13 games. JAY EDWARDS
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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