KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 23, 2005 - C.J. Watson #32 and Dane Bradshaw #23 of Tennessee Volunteers during a game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo by Tennessee Athletics.

Former University of Tennessee men’s basketball standout C.J. Watson will join the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame (SNSHF) next week.

DraftExpress - CJ Watson: An Introduction -

The 26th class in SNSHF history, the class of 2024, will be formally inducted on June 14 at Lee’s Family Forum in Henderson, Nevada.

Along with boxing referee Kenny Bayless, golfer Brady Exber, and the broadcasting executive team of Tony Bonnici and Jesse Leeds, Watson is one of five honorees. Former members of the SNSHF include, among many other notables, basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, running back DeMarco Murray, pitcher Brady Exber,, and tennis player Andre Agassi.

Watson, a native of Las Vegas, completed his high school education at Bishop Gorman. He was named Nevada’s Gatorade Player of the Year twice and won two 4A state championships there.

After signing with the Volunteers in 2002, Watson spent four seasons as a player on Rocky Top, ending in 2006. He played for Buzz Peterson for his first three years of play, and then under Bruce Pearl for his last season, 2005–06, where he led Tennessee to an SEC record of 22–8 (12–4), an NCAA Tournament bid to the Round of 32, and an AP top–20 ranking.

The 170-pound, 6-foot-2 player appeared in 119 games as a Volunteer, starting 118 of them. Eighteen years later, his 1,424 points, or an average of 12.0 points per game, still ranks No. 21 in program history.

With 577 assists overall, the gifted floor general averaged 4.8 assists per game. These totals are still the second and fourth-best in Tennessee history, respectively. Only three players have ever led the Volunteers in assists: Tony Harris (1997–2001), Johnny Darden (1975–79), and Watson (1977–2001). Watson led the team in assists for four of those years. Even at Tennessee, his 1.82 assist-to-turnover ratio is good for eighth place.

Watson was a superb defensive player as well, averaging 1.66 steals per game for a total of 198. Even still, such rankings place him third and fifth all-time among Volunteers. Three players in program history have led the team in thefts three times: Vincent Yarbrough (1999–2002), Fred Jenkins (four times; 1983–87), and him.

In addition, Watson had the sixth-best 3-point percentage of any Volunteer in history during his tenure in Tennessee, with a stunning 39.6 percent clip.

In 2005–06, Watson was selected to the Second Team All-SEC and scored a career-high 15.3 points per game on average. In 2002–03, he was also selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Watson played portions of two seasons in Italy, Greece, and the NBA D-League after having a stellar collegiate career. Watson started his NBA career in 2008 and played for ten years with the Golden State Warriors.

Watson participated in 600 games and made 104 starts throughout his ten seasons at the top of the sport. Along with his 37.3 percent three-point shooting percentage, he averaged 7.2 points and 2.5 assists per game.

During his time with the Chicago Bulls in 2011–12, Watson was a nominee for both NBA 6th Man of the Year and NBA Most Improved Player. Over the course of four seasons, he played in 48 playoff games and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals twice.

Watson was a player for the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, and Warriors in addition to the Bulls and Warriors. Watson played in Turkey for a portion of a season after his NBA career ended in 2018.

With former coach Don DeVoe’s election into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in April, Watson became the second Tennessee basketball graduate to be honored in a state hall of fame this year.

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