Four years as a starter, two state title and over 100 wins means the future Zag is The Seattle Times boys basketball player of the year.
Anton Watson needed a gamertag for his Xbox, so he settled on “Twonster.”
It also became his Twitter handle, back when he barely knew what Twitter was.
“I didn’t think I would keep it,” he laughed. “But I’ve run with it.”
It’s so fitting.
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Anton Watson is a monster on the basketball court. His array of dunks through and over opposing players that stood in the Gonzaga Prep standout’s way the past four years are testament to that.
In a state loaded with some of the most recruited players in the nation, Watson has separated himself with his ability to do it all — especially win. Not many in state history can say they started all four years, went to the state semifinals all four years, won back-to-back state titles and compiled 102 career victories.
That’s why Watson will be staying so close to home next year playing at Gonzaga University, and that’s why he’s The Seattle Times’ two-time state boys basketball player of the year.
“He’s so well rounded, so multidimensional,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said of his 6-foot-9 senior. “But teams had such a hard time figuring out what they wanted to do with him because he’s such a great passer, so intelligent. He can affect the game on the glass, defense, offense, getting in transition.
“And his legacy has to go down as one of the best high-school players to ever come from Washington.”
Watson started on back-to-back semifinal teams that were a play away from beating eventual state-champion Federal Way his freshman year and a play away, again, from beating state-champion Kentwood when Watson was a sophomore.
But when G-Prep returned to the semifinals his junior year, the “Twonster” officially emerged. He twice dunked over Richland’s 7-foot-4 Riley Sorn (who’s now a freshman at Washington). Later he hit the game-winning three-pointer off an inbound pass in overtime.
Watson said that buzzer-beater was about having “Kobe mentality.”
Richland coach Earl Streufert called it Watson’s coming out.
“I always felt like he was holding something back a little bit, and that he was a better player than he showed,” said Streufert, who went 0-7 against Watson’s Gonzaga Prep squads. “I thought that game was his breakout, for me, where I looked at it and was like, ‘Yeah, this is going to be a real problem for another year.’ ”
Watson’s father, Deon, remains the University of Idaho’s career rebounds leaders (third-most in Big Sky history). That’s also where Anton’s brother, Deon Jr., was a standout tight end.
Anton always played basketball, but doesn’t always remember winning like he has for G-Prep. He said it wasn’t until John Stockton recruited him onto his AAU team when Watson was in eighth grade that he started to tap into just how good he could be.
Stockton graduated from Gonzaga Prep almost 40 years ago before heading to Gonzaga and eventually the NBA’s Hall of Fame as its all-time assists leader. So not a bad coach to have.
“He teaches us how to be a better person and working hard for something rather than having it given to you,” Watson said. “I didn’t know exactly what I was capable of before he picked me up in the eighth grade … hopefully I can follow his lead.”
Gonzaga University assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, whose junior son, Liam, was Gonzaga Prep’s No. 2 scorer behind Watson this year, had another comparison when thinking about Watson.
How about Gonzaga’s Naismith Trophy finalist Rui Hachimura?
“He’s a guy who potentially we could use like Hachimura a little bit where he plays both inside and outside and handles the ball,” Lloyd said. “So I’m excited for that and really excited for us to get our hands on him.
“But maybe the biggest area of growth for Anton is going to be the play-by-play effort that is required at this level. Sometimes you watch him and you wonder if he’s playing that hard. When you really evaluate him you see he’s really effective and impacts the game, but I still think there’s another level of effort that he’s going to have to tap into and he’s certainly capable.“
The Seattle Times All-State team
F Shaw Anderson, Kelso, 6-5, Sr.
27.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists
Seattle Pacific got a steal in one of the most feared matchups in the state. Scored 1,986 career points, despite double- and triple-teams every game.
G/F Cole Bajema, 6-8, Lynden Christian, Sr.
24 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists
League MVP last year, yet still its most improved this year. LC’s all-time leading scorer had offers from Virginia and UW before choosing Michigan.
G RaeQuan Battle, Marysville-Pilchuck, 6-5, Sr.
21.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists
With nearly unlimited three-point range and leaping ability, UW signee is believed to be first from Tulalip Tribes to earn a DI basketball scholarship.
F Jaden McDaniels, Federal Way, 6-11, Sr.
22.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Whoever lands McDonald’s All-American is getting a nightmare matchup. Only other state players ever ranked as a top-5 recruit by 247Sports: Martell Webster (2005), Spencer Hawes (2006) and Michael Porter Jr. (2017).
G Brock Ravet, Kittitas, 6-1, Sr.
28.7 points, 9.7 assists, 9.0 rebounds
F Paolo Banchero, O’Dea, 6-9, Soph.
18.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists
G MarJon Beauchamp, Rainier Beach, 6-6, Jr.
26 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists
F Tari Eason, Federal Way, 6-8, Jr.
17.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.5 blocks
G Jabe Mullins, Mount Si, 6-5, Jr.
19.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists
G Zack Paulsen, Curtis, 6-5, Sr.
22.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists