By Brandon Speck
BOONEVILLE – Sean Watkins’ move to Shannon was good for the Red Raiders, arguably better for Watkins.
Watkins transferred from Tupelo after his junior season, not because of any major problems, but admittedly after some less-than-ideal basketball situations.
“I had a couple of run-ins in Tupelo, but when I moved to Shannon, I saw what I really wanted to do,” Watkins said. “I wanted a new start.”
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound forward got that and a pretty good ending, too. He wound up helping the Red Raiders to the Class 4A state tournament, averaging 11.9 points and two rebounds per game. He has signed with Itawamba CC.
“I found what I needed to do and what I needed to work on and how to be a leader,” said Watkins, a 3A/4A/5A/6A all-star in Saturday’s North Mississippi All-Star games at Booneville. “It just taught me more in life.”
Watkins will play for his former Tupelo coach, Grant Pate at ICC. Pate said Watkins’ abilities were evident as a sophomore.
“He really hit a growth spurt between his ninth and tenth grade year and played well for us,” said Pate, who took the ICC job before Watkins’ junior year. “He was a versatile forward, even that young, really competed well against out older guys. He still shoots it well. His intensity level has increased as he’s gotten older. He’s playing hard. He’s defending well and that was another asset that caught our eye. He’s a very good student-athlete, an excellent young man.”
Things to work on
Good around the basket and with a solid mid-range game, Watkins is working on his outside shooting and rebounding. He has senior college aspirations.
He was on Tupelo’s Class 6A runner-up team in 2012, a two-point overtime loss against Jim Hill. but as a sophomore wasn’t the go-to guy he became at Shannon.
“I’ll never forget both of them,” Watkins said. The first game we were a second away from it, but the semifinal game, it meant more to me because I was actually a part of it
“I’ll never forget that team. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”