It would be easy to guess that Morris Catholic’s Jadyn Watson might feel some sort of pressure to follow in the footsteps of her mom, Lorraine Watson, and aunt, Lorice Watson.
Both were accomplished basketball players in their days, with her mom playing five to six years of professional basketball in Mexico, and her aunt, a former college hoopster who has coached the men and women’s game on the collegiate level.
But no one has ever made the younger Watson feel obligated to play the sport.
In fact, she said that it was her own decision to take up the game, not even knowing one important fact about her mother’s past.
“I brought home a (basketball) flyer in the third grade not knowing that she played basketball,” Watson recollected. “She never pressured me at all.”
All Watson’s mom wanted from her was to know the level of basketball earnestness that she possessed.
“My mom asked me how serious I was about playing basketball,’ she said. “I told her I wanted to play at the D-I level, and play professionally one day.
“She never pushed me to it, and supported me all the way,” the Manhattan-born Watson continued. “But she kept asking me if I wanted to play. They (her mom and aunt) knew how hard it would be to play at the D-I level.”
To help Watson improve her overall playing ability, her mom placed her in a New York City AAU boys’ league, which, she said, added more physical and mental grittiness to her impressive skill set.
“It made me more physical,” said Watson, who played with the boys from the fourth to the seventh grade. “With injuries now, I can play through them. It has made me tougher.”
Watson, a New Jersey resident who lived in the Bronx, spent her first two years of high school at Hudson Catholic before playing last season with the Lady Crusaders, where she drained an impressive 438 points and grabbed 292 rebounds in 27 games.
Morris Catholic girl’s head coach Billy Lovett told Watson that he would do everything in his power to raise her recruitment, as did her New Jersey Cardinals AAU head coach, Michele Sharp.
It has worked, as Watson said she holds seven D-I offers at the moment: San Jose State, Florida Atlantic, Delaware, UIC, Northeastern, Hartford, and UMass-Lowell.
“The recruiting process has been great,” the 6-foot-1, 165-pound stretch-four rising senior said. “My coaches have been great at promoting me, showing my game film and my workout videos.”
Lovett duly noted that he has enjoyed seeing Watson’s vast development in one year at the Denville school, and doesn’t doubt her college hoops future.
“Her growth from the beginning of the season to the end was great,” Lovett said. “She averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and had some big games, and even carried us at times. She’s a great person–on and off the court–and is a delight to be around. I can definitely see her playing at a high level (in college). It’s just a matter of the right fit for her.”
Watson said she isn’t rushing into any hasty decisions at the moment. But when she chooses a college, she noted that it must have a nice family atmosphere, both on campus and on the hoops squad.
“I’m not jumping on any offers right now,” said Watson, who wants to study chemistry in college, and possibly become a high school chemistry teacher.
“Right now, I’m being cautious because there aren’t any school visits going on (because of the COVID-19 pandemic),” Watson explained. “But I want a school that has a family feel to it, and on the basketball team, which is important to me. But I will let it (college choice) happen naturally.”
For Watson, Lovett said she didn’t make the All-Morris County squad, and it’s something that will motivate her to play even better next year.
“She wasn’t picked All-County, and it drives her every day,” he said with conviction.
First thing first, however, the Lady Crusaders–who posted a 17-11 record in the 2019-20 campaign–are currently loaded with talent and are healthy. They’ll look to make their undeniable mark on the girls’ high school basketball scene this coming campaign.
“I’m super excited for the season,” she said. “Winning more is something that Coach Billy and I discuss. We’re going to have a great season next year; we’re definitely going to have a winning season and win championships.”
And that’s something that will surely resonate with the Morris Catholic Crusader family, especially with the Watson clan.
— Jerry Del Priore