Sitting between his mother and father, with his teammates and coaches assembled behind him, and fellow students and members of the media observing, Watts signed his copy of the National Letter-of-Intent.
Before giving Watts the floor, Kim Annas, Jordan’s head basketball coach, read a statement from Roy Williams.
“‘We’re all very happy with Justin’s decision to attend the University of North Carolina,’” Annas read. “This fantastic student athlete will do a great job at UNC both in the classroom and on the court.
“‘If all three of our youngsters – Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson – stay in the NBA draft, then we’ll be very thin on the perimeter and Justin will be able to give us some help next year. If those three or a combination of them return to school, Justin will be able to learn from them and help us next year in practice every single day.
“‘He’s a fine young man from a great family. We look forward to him being part of the North Carolina basketball family. He’s received great coaching at Jordan. He has tremendous fundamentals to build on here at Carolina.’”
Watts’ decision to sign with UNC came much later in the recruiting process than most of his peers.
“I waited it out because I was talking to a lot of coaches and they told me if I waited it out it’s only going to get better, it’s not going to get any worse,” Watts said. “… I was just weighing the pros and cons with my family trying to see what the best fit for me was. I found it in North Carolina.”
UNC extended Watts a scholarship offer Monday during his official visit to the campus.
“I told Coach [Williams] to give me some time to think about it,” Watts said. “He said that was fine and to give him a call when I’m ready to make my decision.”
Watts made that call Tuesday night and verbally committed to Williams.
“He said congratulations and welcome to the family,” Watts said.
Stanford was Watts’ other finalist. In addition to growing up a Tar Heel fan, several other factors tipped the scales towards UNC.
“Carolina’s history – they’ve had a great program for years, Coach Williams – Hall-of-Fame coach, the rest of the coaching staff is very good also, and location – it’s close to home,” Watts said.
A three time all-conference player, Watts has started for Jordan since his sophomore season. He was named district and conference player-of-the-year following his senior season in which he averaged 24 points and nearly nine rebounds a game.
“He certainly had a tremendous career as a basketball player here at Jordan High School,” Annas said.
Watts’ accomplishments continue off the court.
“Not only is Justin a very good basketball player, but he’s also a very good student,” Ames said. “… He’s done a great job in the classroom from day one. He does his homework, class work, tests – just always doing what he’s supposed to do.
“Not only is he a good basketball player and good student, but he’s a great person. [He possesses an] excellent attitude, excellent work ethic – just does what he’s supposed to do to the best that he could possibly can. He’s a fine role model for any young people to look up to.”
Justin Watts Profile