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A Queen and Her Court

by | Feb 14, 2015

Emmanuel Morgan

Emmanuel Morgan is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Prior to joining The Times in October 2019, his work has appeared in the Charlotte Observer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Morgan graduated from Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in political science.In his spare time he'll contribute an article on a particular athlete and/or sports topic.
Emmanuel Morgan

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Across the centuries, kings and queens reigned over vast nations around the globe with iron fists. And while thousands upon thousands of historical tyrants varied in many different areas of their rule, they had a few
things in common. Most were swift to action, decisive with their intentions, and left their thrones with no regrets.  In the realm of basketball around the Charlotte area, Weddington point guard Stephanie Watts fits the description of a tyrant on the hardwood.

Watts, a native to New York, has taken the NCHSAA by storm this season. Leading the area in scoring with 29 points a game while averaging 6 assists per night, the senior unquestionably has placed herself in elite company. Maya Moore, the face of the WNBA, only averaged 25 points per game during her senior season.  ESPN gives Watts a 97 overall grade and also ranks her as the 24th overall player for the class of 2015.   Too add to her resume, she has also received the nations highest high school basketball honor by being selected to play in the McDonalds
All-American game in Chicago this coming spring. Without question, Watts has separated herself from the majority of her peers.

“Her reputation preceded her, even in the seventh grade,” Weddington head coach Ryun Cook said. “Even back then we knew she was going to be something.”

Cook stumbled across Weddington by accident. The 15-year basketball coach was originally from Indiana before he randomly migrated to the Charlotte for the warmer weather and greater opportunities for employment. After coaching JV and Varsity girls basketball at Sun Valley High School, Cook became head coach at Weddington, creating a strong relationship with Watts since his first day on campus.

“I can always count on coach Cook, ”Watts said. “I love him and we are really close. I know he’ll do anything for me and I really appreciate him for that.”

Since her freshman year, Watts developed into an incredible force. Once a skinny, unrefined girl, Watts transformed into a strong, well-conditioned machine due the time she invested in the weight room.  Along with that came the long summer days and lonely nights of honing her skills with the basketball. While many of her friends were enjoying the freedom of adolescence, Watts was in the gym perfecting her game.

“Growing up, I gave up on a lot of social events and it was really tough,” Watts said. “But looking back on it now, I feel like it was all worth it.”

The results of her laborious attitude began to blossom the summer after her freshman year when Watts participated in AAU for more experience¾another testament to her devotion.  After traveling across the Southeast to attend tournament after tournament, Watts began to make a name for herself nationally with her dribbling abilities and unmatched knack of scoring the basketball.  Because of this, Cook’s telephone was constantly ringing with collegiate coaches inquiring to scout her.

“It was crazy having coaches all the way from Maryland and West Virginia coming to Weddington just to see her,” Cook said.  “That’s something we’re not used to here. It was definitely a circus the fall of her sophomore year.”

Out of all the colleges pursing her, Watts ultimately chose North Carolina. Being close to home and the legacy of greatness intrigued her and ultimately lured her in.

“Whenever I went there, the coaches and players really welcomed me in and made it fell like home. They were really receptive towards me,” Watts said.

This summer, in order to bridge the gap, Watts will devote more time to the weight room and towards the gym to prepare for collegiate competition. Her 5-9 frame gives her exceptional size for a woman’s guard. Her versatility also presents her the options of being an aggressive driver, or a perimeter, spot-up shooter.

“If I prepare this summer like I have during my high school career, I’ll definitely be able to transform into a collegiate player,” Watts said.

The Charlotte Observer ranked Weddington No.2 in the area, while MaxPreps ranked the Warriors No. 10 in the state. Weddington has more than 20 wins this season, and their only debauchery in the loss column came by way of nationally ranked Myers Park. In the AAA classification, the Warriors are the favorite to win this year’s state title. If that is too happen, Watts will need to be the catalyst¾ something Cook is not fretting about.

“Every game Stephanie approaches is just business to her. She brings a mentality that is truly admirable,” Cook said. “I’m never worry about a game when I know I have the best player on the floor.”

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