The Utah men’s basketball team is in the Bahamas preparing to take on Harvard and some two of six other teams (including the possibility of UConn). I’m imagining Javon Dawson in board shorts next to the sapphire ocean, sipping something from a pineapple.
Yesterday, as the Utes were en route, presumably somewhere over the heartland, the telephone rang at The Tribune and a deep-drawling Texan greeted me from the other end.
Mark Adams, Josh Watkins’ junior college coach at Howard College, was returning my call for the far-reaching profile I wrote on the Utah senior point guard in Tuesday’s Tribune.
A big part of that story was Jiggy’s weight. Watkins returned to Salt Lake in the summer at 232 pounds. First-year coach Larry Krystkowiak said the Utes set a target of 215 for Watkins, with plans to get him to slim down to 205 by the beginning of the season. Didn’t happen.
“Gawl-lee,” Adams said. “He’s been hanging around guys like me, it sounds like.”
Now, Adams returned my call on the day the story on Watkins ran in the Trib, so I wasn’t able to include his insights. As is often the case in lengthy profiles, Jiggy’s story in some ways became more about the people around him than, well, him.
His mother Lisa, for example, deserves her own book.
A somber story about how she came to be unemployed for a year starts this way: “I allowed my son to do a rap video on top of my roof...”*
A rap video! On her roof!
Police tales aside, Adams was much the same. He coached the Howard Hawks to a junior college national title in 2010, and Watkins was the point guard.
Adams wanted an update on Watkins. Are the Utes running ball screens for him? (Yes.) Is he taking care of the ball? (No.) How’s his perimeter shooting? (Well, still not his strength.) I mean statistically. (Uh, let me look.)
The answer is that through three games Watkins is 4-of-8 on 3-point attempts. Fifty percent.
“Tell him not to shoot anymore,” Adams said. “Keep that stat.”
Adams said Watkins’ weight is his only impediment, saying he thinks he’s good enough to get a shot in the NBA.
“He wants to get that weight down,” Adams said, “and I think he has a chance to make some money someday.”
It should be noted that Watkins’ weight is indeed down, to about 207 pounds, although he acknowledged two weeks ago when we talked about it that he could still be in better shape.
Krystkowiak said the point guard’s progress is what matters.
“The key for us is that he has managed to whittle it down,” Krystkowiak said. “Yeah, I would have liked to have it been about six weeks ago to be this weight, but at least we’re here, he’s cognizant of what he’s eating and he’s taking care of himself.”
Watkins is a different player when he’s in shape, as the Utes have seen over the course of a season-plus and, more specifically, through the first three games of this year.
“His strength is getting to the basket,” Adams said, “so he needs his weight down to be able to do that. I always compared him to a pinball.”
— Bill Oram
* Watkins’ brother, Charles/Charlie Clips, is an up-and-coming rapper, at least according to the basketballing Watkins.. “Everyone knows who he is,” Jiggy said. Check him out on Youtube.