Gonzaga Prep’s Anton Watson won’t gloat about how extraordinarily talented he is on the basketball court.
When asked to talk about his accomplishments, Watson went out of his way to deflect the praise. It doesn’t fit within the framework of team basketball.
So others spoke out this week about The News Tribune’s 2019 state boys basketball player of the year, who has signed with one of the nation’s top college programs just a few minutes away from his high school campus — Gonzaga University.
“You hear stories of other higher recruits and how they kill culture,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “There was never even a hint of that here. He loves his teammates. He was so easy to coach.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
The guy who leaves high school with 2,022 points and a 102-6 record — including a pair of back-to-back Class 4A state championships — is certainly difficult to try and box in by traditional basketball characterizations.
Watson is an all-around threat. At 6-foot-7, he can pass like a point guard, play stifling defense on the perimeter and in the paint and score like a shooting guard or post player.
McIntrye sees Watson as the face for the newest trend in the sport — position-free basketball.
“He checks all the boxes,” McIntrye said.
With his combination of size, strength and skill, Watson still garners an array of player comparisons.
One prep coach said Watson reminds him of former Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Another coach likens Watson’s game to Marvin Williams, a Bremerton High School graduate who plays in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets.
Curtis High School coach Tim Kelly, whose Vikings faced Watson and the Bullpups in the 4A state regionals, thinks the state of Washington really hasn’t seen a well-rounded player in Watson’s mold before.
“Not someone of his size,” Kelly said. “Guards are (well-rounded) because they are what they are. With his size and strength, he is unique.”
If you had to nitpick about Watson’s game, he isn’t a top-flight perimeter shooter. But, you wouldn’t know that watching this year’s 4A state title game.
Watsonscored a game-high 33 points in his final game on 16-of-19 shooting. He also had eight rounds and four assists in the Bullpups’ 69-43 victory over Mount Si in the Tacoma Dome.
“It was a remarkable night. ... It was a fitting way for his high school career to end,” McIntyre said.
Added Watson after the game: “We could not go home losers.”
THE NEWS TRIBUNE’S 2018-19 ALL-STATE BOYS BASKETBALL TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Anton Watson, Gonzaga Prep
Forward, 6-8, sr.
Gonzaga signee compiled a 102-6 record with the Bullpups during his four year career, and brought home a state trophy each season — including the past two 4A state titles. Averaged 21 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2 steals per game this season, and leaves Gonzaga Prep with 2,022 career points. Two-time TNT all-state pick.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jason Griffith, Mount Si
26-3 record this season, 4A state runner-up
Few expected to see Mount Si playing in the Tacoma Dome finale, but there the Wildcats were, going toe-to-toe with Gonzaga Prep in the 4A state championship game. In his third season, Griffith guided Mount Si to just its third state appearance in the past four decades — and first title-game appearance since the school’s only win in 1977. The Wildcats were on a 20-game winning streak before losing to the Bullpups in the final, and won undefeated 4A KingCo and 4A Wes-King bidistrict titles.
Shaw Anderson, Kelso
Forward, 6-5, sr.
Seattle Pacific-bound power forward broke the 3A state tournament all-time scoring record with 122 points in four games, and his 30.5 points per game in the tournament also topped current Denver Nuggets player Michael Porter Jr.’s modern format record (30). Averaged 27.1 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Hilanders, and closed his career with 1,986 points.
Paolo Banchero, O’Dea
Forward, 6-9, soph.
Missed some games during the regular seasons with an injury, but left no doubt as to why he’s a consensus five-star recruit and considered the No. 6 player in the country in the 2021 class with a dominating four-game performance in the Tacoma Dome that included 15 blocks. Averaged 18.2 points and 10.3 rebounds this season in pacing the Fighting Irish to a 3A state title. Has several prestigious Division I offers.
RaeQuan Battle, Marysville-Pilchuck
Forward, 6-5, sr.
Bouncy forward helped Marysville-Pilchuck make history with a program-best fourth-place finish in the 3A state tournament. Ability to play above the rim and a smooth jumper made the Washington signee one of the state’s most exciting players. Averaged 21.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Jaden McDaniels, Federal Way
Guard/forward, 6-11, sr.
Five-star recruit is considering Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Washington after pacing the Eagles to a state trophy each of his four high school seasons. The consensus No. 5 player in the nation in 2019 is the 14th player in state history to be named a McDonald’s All-American. Averaged 23.3 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks per game this season, and compiled a 107-9 career record at Federal Way. Two-time TNT all-state pick.
Brock Ravet, Kittitas
Guard, 6-1, sr.
The only high school basketball player in state history to clear 3,000 points added a few more during the 2B state tournament, and finished his four-year career with a stunning 3,100. Gonzaga signee averaged 29 points, 10 assists and 9.5 rebounds his final season in leading Kittitas to its third consecutive 2B state title. Two-time TNT all-state pick.
G Marjon Beauchamp, Rainier Beach, 6-6, jr.
G Cole Bajema, Lynden Christian, 6-8, sr.
F Tyson Degenhart, Mount Spokane, 6-7, soph.