Neil Watson, Leadership and International Ambitions

We caught up with Glasgow Rocks guard Neil Watson, after his team’s recent road trip to Leicester, to talk about facing his old franchise, international ambitions and leadership role on the Rocks.

Speaking after his side slipped to a 93-84 defeat, Watson was quick to acknowledge the warm reception he received from the home supporters: “It was really fun, coming back and seeing all the fans was great. To receive all that love, it was amazing!”

Watson, who spent his first 2 seasons in the league with Leicester, will be ever grateful of the role Head Coach Rob Paternostro played in bringing the Kansas native across the pond to the Riders. “I got the call from Rob, after he had seen my college tape, and from there I came over. He really took me under his wing during my time in Leicester and he definitely helped me develop as a player.”

Rob is an energetic coach and he’s constantly giving feedback. It’s almost the opposite approach of Sterling [Davis], but both let their players play and learn from their mistakes.”

I had some great times in Leicester; the high point was probably winning the league and trophy in the same season. I’ll always enjoy coming back.”

The marquee acquisition for Glasgow in the offseason, Watson is seen as a leader on the court. “I wouldn’t say it’s more pressure, but I do feel like one of the more experienced veterans on the roster. Having been in the league for multiple years I know what it takes to perform on a nightly basis and that’s something I can hopefully pass on to the younger players on the squad.”

Despite sitting in 4th place in the Championship table, as the postseason looms, Glasgow is in the midst of a 5 game slide. “It’s too bad we didn’t win the game, but we lost to the best team in the league right now. We’ve had injuries to deal with and still run teams close. It’s never a great time to lose multiple games but we’re a mentally strong group and I’ve no doubt we’ll bounce back when it counts.”

Watson’s optimism extends beyond the court; the star guard is in the process of obtaining citizenship. “Scotland is great; we’ve even had plenty of sunshine in Glasgow… which has shocked me! I love it.”

I’m in the process of gaining citizenship; it’s just a matter of time. For me it’s about filling arenas with fans rather than lining my pockets with money. I’m here for the long haul and I’d love to help GB compete on the international stage and bring new fans to the game.”

I love this country and I can’t wait to take part in the 2018-19 trials and hopefully 2020 Olympics.”

Image: Jack Osmond