In the ramp up to the 2011-12 basketball season, Tar Heel Fan will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at guard Justin Watts.
Weight: 210 lbs
2010-11 Stats: 34 gms, 1.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 37.5 FG%, 53.3 FT%
Career Stats: 83 gms, 1.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 34.9 FG%, 49.0 FT%
What Happened Last Season
Much like the entire team, Justin Watts season really falls into two categories: before the Georgia Tech game, and after it. Watts averaged 12.3 minutes per game during the first half of the season, which included a career game against Hofstra, in which he scored 13 points on 6 of 6 shooting from the field. However, Watts was injured in the first game following the meltdown in Atlanta, causing him to miss the next three games. By the time he returned, Roy had already begun paring down the rotation, which left Watts relegated to only about 6 minutes a game over the team's final 16 contests.
Outlook For This Season
North Carolina returns a very talented team, which unlike last year, has added depth in the front court that will greatly diminish the minutes available to Watts at the PF position. Watts should still see minutes early in the season, as Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons will be adjusting to college basketball and Roy generally likes to play a lot of players in November and December to keep the team fresh for February and March (and hopefully, April). But assuming that Simmons and/or Hubert prove to be capable of providing emergency minutes, and that there are no major injuries, it is hard to see Watts making a significant impact once conference play starts.
Senior leadership. Despite retuning nearly the entire roster, this is still a relatively young team. Watts may not play a lot, but he is a senior who owns an NCAA Championship ring, and he could make a very valuable contribution by helping to keep the team's focus and energy where it needs to be in order to cut down the nets.
For Watts to lead Stillman White, Jackson Simmons and Desmond Hubert as the most talented "Blue Team" in the country (...and for them to get a lot of run). Watts actually averaged an impressive 8.0 rebounds per 40 minutes last season, and if he could continue that production in the non-end of game minutes that he gets this season, that would be a bonus. But more than anything, the biggest wish is for Watts to join Tyler Zeller as the first Carolina basketball players to ever be on two NCAA Championship teams.