Watson Transfers To West Liberty

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty University men’s basketball coach Ben Howlett wrapped up his recruiting class with a flourish this week with the addition of NJCAA All-American Ariel Watson.

A 6-foot-3 junior guard from Garrett (Md.) College, Watson ranked among the top 20 junior college scorers in the nation last winter at 21.6 ppg. and brings the mix of size, athleticism and perimeter shooting prowess that has become a WLU trademark over the years.

Howlett, who earned Mountain East Conference Coach of the Year honors after leading the Hilltoppers to another MEC championship, their ninth consecutive NCAA Division II Tournament bid and their 10th national scoring title in the past 13 seasons, expects Watson to have an immediate impact.

“Ariel is a big, strong physical guard who has a real knack for scoring the basketball,” Howlett said. “His skill set really fits well with our system, which makes him a great late pick-up for us. I really look forward to coaching him this season.”

A two-year regular at Garrett after wrapping up a stellar high school career at Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., Watson was a force at both ends of the floor for the Lakers last season as he swept All-Conference and All-Region honors on his way to earning national recognition as a third-team NJCAA All-American

He was the model of consistency, reaching double-figures in 27 of Garrett’s 28 games. He went for 20 or more points in 15 of those games and had seven games with 30 or more points. He also showed the ability to rise to the occasion in big games, averaging nearly 27 points a night in 14 conference contests.

Watson finished the season shooting 47 percent (211-445) from the floor, 37 percent (58-158) from the 3-point arc and 78 percent (126-162) from the foul line while averaging more than 5 rebounds a night and led the team in steals.

He rounds out an impressive recruiting class for WLU that includes 6-7 Campbell University transfer Nick Greely; 1,600-point scorer Yahel Hill, a speedy 6-0 freshman point guard from Cleveland (Ohio) Heights and Jon Alessandro, a 6-7 freshman All-Conference forward from Ohio Division I Beavercreek High School.

West Liberty will open the 2018-19 season by hosting the annual MEC/PSAC Challenge at the ASRC on Nov. 9-10. The Hilltoppers take on Kutztown (Pa.) on the first night before closing out the challenge against West Chester the following night.

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