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Gonzaga Basketball

Anton Watson produces another all-around effort on Gonzaga’s Senior Night

It was one of the best stretches of Anton Watson’s senior season.

In the span of roughly 60 seconds, Gonzaga’s 6-foot-8 forward had three steals, made two free throws and distributed two assists to Julian Strawther on a 3-pointer and a fastbreak dunk.

Watson went through Senior Night festivities on Wednesday – he hasn’t decided if he will move on or return for an extra COVID season of eligibility – but if this was his last home game in a Zags uniform, he offered up another impactful performance at both ends of the court in the Zags’ 104-65 nonconference rout over Chicago State at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Watson finished with 10 points, seven assists, four steals, three rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes before exiting with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining to a loud ovation.

“It means a lot just because I’ve grown up here and just seen how people have watched me grow as a player and as a person,” Watson said. “There’s a lot of people that have faith in me and believe in me as a basketball player. That’s just all love and that’s why I give love back to the community.”

Coach Mark Few said Watson has “kind of been the unsung hero of this season with what he does for us.”

The best season of Watson’s GU career wasn’t enough to earn a spot on the All-West Coast Conference’s 10-player first team or five-player second team, released earlier Wednesday. He was one of five players on the honorable mention list.

Watson also was a candidate for WCC Defensive Player of the Year, but the award went to Saint Mary’s guard Logan Johnson. Individual awards and All-WCC teams are voted on by the conference’s 10 head coaches.

“I don’t pay attention to it,” the easy-going Watson said. “I really don’t care.”

His teammates quickly made a case that Watson was overlooked in the awards. Several went on social media to express their disappointment.

“This dude was the defensive player of the year,” senior forward Drew Timme, who was WCC co-Player of the Year with Santa Clara’s Brandin Podziemski, said after Wednesday’s win. “I don’t know how they voted or what happened, but that’s pretty crazy. This dude guards the best player every night, he rebounds, blocks (shots), he does everything. He’s a big and he guards the guards.”

“We were hoping Anton would be defensive player of the year,” Few said, “but there was some good defensive players (with) Logan Johnson and (Kyle) Bowen. Those things, that’s now why we get into it.”

Asked if it might add some motivation going forward, Watson said, “Maybe a little fuel, but I just keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing and know it’s going to pay off. I don’t really pay too much attention to it.”