C.J. Watson won't presume anything about Warriors

Take a look at former Tennessee standout C.J. Watson, and it's impossible to know what's going on inside his head.

His expression never changes. No matter when you see him or what the conversation is, Watson has that same wide-eyed, boyish look and innocent smile every time.

Doesn't matter whether he's just knocked a tooth out of Joakim Noah's mouth or hit a game-winning 3-pointer.

Or, for that matter, learned that his NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, drafted Davidson super guard Stephen Curry with the seventh overall pick in the draft.

"I think he's going to be able to play right away,'' Warriors coach Don Nelson told The Associated Press about Curry.

Watson, who was been in Knoxville this summer taking classes toward finishing his degree at UT and playing in the Pilot Rocky Top League, has yet to renegotiate his contract with the Warriors.

"I start negotiations (today),'' said Watson, a 6-foot-2 point guard whose current contract runs through July. "I'd be playing out here even if I didn't have a contract.''

Watson shrugged when asked about Golden State drafting Curry, and what it might suggest about his future with the franchise.

"They can draft who they want to draft,'' said Watson, who started out with the Warriors in January of 2008 and played a whole season last year. "It doesn't matter, because it's all about competing and working hard.''

Watson, who lives in Oakland, Calif., near the arena, said he'd like to stay with Golden State.

"I hope so, but if not I'll go to another team,'' he said. "There are other jobs out there.''

Watson admits he was "star-struck'' his first half-season in the league in 2008. But this past year has been a different story.

"I think I've shown what I can do,'' said Watson, who averaged 24 minutes per game last season, scoring 9.5 points while connecting on .457 of his shots, .400 beyond the arc and .870 at the free-throw line. "I played well last season even though I had a torn ligament in my (right) elbow.''

Watson has coasted through the Rocky Top League, choosing to distribute the ball to his teammates rather than score himself while playing mostly position defense.

But Monday night, in the final seconds of a tight game with playoff implications, the real C.J. Watson - the player known as "Quiet Storm'' - re-appeared.

Former UT and European player Damon Johnson brought the ball upcourt to attempt a game-winning shot in the final seconds.

Watson switched over to cover Johnson and displayed a velcro-like defense never before seen in the summer league.

It was all Johnson could do to get off a shot. At that, it didn't hit the rim.

Watson's team, which features former UT players Ron Slay and Jon Higgins and incoming UT freshman Kenny Hall, must win tonight's 9 o'clock game at Bearden High School to play in Thursday's championship.

It will be a challenge, as former UT players Dane Bradshaw and JaJuan Smith likely will be guarding Watson.

In addition to Bradshaw, the News Sentinel also is loaded with current UT players Scotty Hopson, Brian Williams and Skylar McBee.

Watson likes the challenge, and he indicated he'll turn it up again when the need arises.

"I just use this league to stay in shape, and it's fun to play against the current UT players and some of the guys I played with here,'' Watson said. "The competition isn't always great, but it's good enough to keep me working hard.''

Watson had been working out every day with his old UT buddy, Chris Lofton, before Lofton left Knoxville and headed to Boston for NBA Summer League action with the Celtics.

"Chris can play in the league,'' Watson said. "He just has to take a different route to it, like I did.''

Watson was cut by the San Antonio Spurs after signing a free-agent deal out of UT.

He then played in Italy, Greece and eventually the NBA D-League before the Warriors signed him.

"You just have to keep working at it, and perfect your craft,'' said Watson, who scored 38 points against the Utah Jazz this season. "Words can't explain what it's like to play against the best every night.

"It's a dream come true.''

Maybe so, but Watson's expression never changed while describing the experience.

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Comments » 6

panties4tebow writes:

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!! WHIP THE LITTLE-Gators!!!!!!!!

bigaldaddy writes:

I really don't see Curry as a point guard in the NBA.

WorkinLikeHeck writes:

Meanwhile Buzz Peterson still thinks Watson should be more of a vocal leader.

Jillelumpkins writes:

I wish CJ would have hit that last second 3-pointer for the win against UK during the "orange and white checkerboard" game... His legacy would be something else had he.

shoalcreekvol writes:

Good luck with everything, CJ. Hope your degree and the rest of your BB career goes well for you. Thanks for representing us with class.

murrayvol writes:

"Watson......displayed a velcro-like defense never before seen in the summer league."

Hope those in attendance watched closely. It may never be seen again.

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