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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga forward Anton Watson named to Julius Erving Award preseason watch list

Gonzaga forward Anton Watson makes his case to an official during the Zags' Sweet 16 win over UCLA last March in Las Vegas.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s Anton Watson is one of 20 players on the preseason watch list for the Julius Erving Award, presented annually to college basketball’s top small forward.

Watson, a grad student, is coming off his best season as a Zag. He averaged a career-high 11.1 points overall and 12.9 in West Coast Conference games while earning honorable mention All-WCC.

Watson connected on 60.8% of his field-goal attempts. He topped the conference at 64.8% accuracy in WCC games. He finished with 66 steals, second in the WCC and fourth on Gonzaga’s single-season list. GU is 105-11 in Watson’s 116 career games.

The 6-foot-8, 229-pound Watson joins teammate Ryan Nembhard (Bob Cousy Award for top point guard) on a preseason watch list. The Karl Malone (top power forward) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (top center) award watch lists are expected to be announced later this week.

Former Zags Corey Kispert (2021) and Rui Hachimura (2019) are past Erving Award winners.

Gonzaga will face at least one player, Kentucky’s Justin Edwards, on the Erving watch list. Depending on results at the Maui Invitational, GU could encounter Johnny Furphy (Kansas), David Joplin (Marquette) or Dalton Knecht (Tennessee).

Others on the watch list: Jalen Bridges, Baylor; Jaylon Tyson, California; Baylor Scheierman, Creighton; Tucker DeVries, Drake; Mark Mitchell, Duke; Payton Sandfort, Iowa; Arthur Kaluma, Kansas State; Matthew Cleveland, Miami (Florida); Coen Carr, Michigan State; Harrison Ingram, North Carolina; Jamison Battle, Ohio State; Glenn Taylor Jr., St. John’s; Tyler Burton, Villanova; Tyler Wahl, Wisconsin; and Dillon Jones, Weber State.

Players can play their way onto and off the list during the season. Fans are allowed to vote on the award, beginning Friday at hoophallawards.com.