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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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‘I’m gonna go pro, I already know that’: What makes Chellia Watson a national superstar

Watson leads the MAC in points and is ranked nationally

Chellia Watson, No. 35, moves the ball up the court during a game against Eastern Michigan.
Chellia Watson, No. 35, moves the ball up the court during a game against Eastern Michigan.

Chellia Watson remembers the beginning of her basketball career, long before she went Division I.

“When I was young, my dad played a little bit. I played YMCA ball in middle school,” says the redshirt senior guard. “I just loved it.”

Now, she’s breaking records.

“The numbers mean nothing to me if we don’t win at the end of the day,” Watson said.

Her numbers are hard to ignore. The Winder, Georgia native is having her highest scoring season yet with 23.2 points per game, and her name is among the top 10 scorers nationally.

Watson has been the Mid-American Conference (MAC)’s “Player of the Week” five times this season and leads the conference comfortably in points with 580.

47 of those points were scored on a Saturday night in Toledo, where she set the school record for points scored in a single game by a UB Bull (among both women’s and men’s teams), shattering the previous records of 43 set by Cierra Dillard in 2019 and 44 by Mike Martinho in 1998.

Watson ranks among the highest women’s basketball scorers in the nation, with only a handful of players ahead of her.

“I just try and get more explosive every year, working on my jump shot, getting my three ball better every year,” Watson said.

Before playing for the Bulls, Watson played for the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2019-20 and spent the 2021-22 season at South Carolina Upstate, where she met UB women’s head coach Becky Burke.

“The first practice you could just see… she’s a little different,” Burke said. “It doesn’t take an expert basketball eye to see her God-given abilities.”

Burke led her 2021-22 Upstate team to tying the program’s D-I era record for overall wins (22) and conference victories (14). Under her guidance that season, Watson earned a spot on the All-Big South’s first team.

But Burke says that Watson adds more to her team than just extra points — she’s also a hard worker and important to her teammates.

“Our freshmen look at her with stars in their eyes,” Burke said. “I think she’s been incredible for this university and for our program.”

Burke has aspirations to win the MAC championship with her team and knows that Watson — a redshirt senior who’s eligible to play next year — will be key to that success.

“We’re winning this year, and we’re gonna be in the conversation for a MAC championship next year,” Burke said. “When your best player is your hardest worker, you’re in for some good things.”

Regardless of whether they win a conference title next season, Watson sees a future for herself on the court. 

“I’m gonna go pro, I already know that,” Watson said. “[Burke]’s gonna help me get there, God’s gonna help me get there, my family’s gonna support me and that’s how we’re gonna make it happen.”

Ricardo Castillo is a sports editor and can be reached at ricardo.castillo@ubspectrum.com

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