COBL’s Jeff Neiburg:
The decision for Mike Watkins to attend The Phelps School for his senior year instead of staying at Math, Civics & Sciences paid off in the form of helping Phelps and coach Brian Shanahan capture the first PAISAA state championship in school history.
And the benefits didn’t just stop on the basketball court.
At the Malvern, Pa. boarding school, Watkins also got a taste of what life was like away from home before he heads up to Penn State next fall to begin his collegiate career.
“It prepared me well,” Watkins said. “It prepared me to manage my time and get my homework done.”
The 6-foot-9 Watkins, who’s been committed to Pat Chambers and PSU since June of 2013, may get slotted in the front court rotation behind upperclassmen like Donovan Jack and Jordan Dickerson, but the departure of senior Ross Travis provides an opening for available minutes.
And Watkins has a very good chance and staking claim to plenty of minutes in his freshman campaign.
“I’m going to go up there willing to work as hard as I have to,” Watkins said. “If I do start right away, that would be cool. If I don’t, I understand I just have to work through the process.”
If Tuesday night was any indication, Watkins is clearly ready to play at the next level. He was a force on both ends of the floor, finishing off alley-oops in transition, creating his own shot in the post and causing havoc on the defensive end around the rim.
“I can’t wait to get up there,” Watkins said. “People thought I fell off because my season was over, but I was still working out. I’m just getting better for the next level.”