Summer Update: Justin Watts

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- The dirty little secret of college athletics is that the glamorous lives of its athletes often aren't so glamorous.

With schedules full from morning to night, the athletes lives are so regimented that it doesn't leave a lot of free time or personal freedom -- even in the summer time.

This summer Justin Watts's life has been a perfect example of that. The senior shooting guard from Durham, N.C. has class in the morning, followed by lifting, then pickup, then working basketball camp, followed by more pickup or Pro Am games and then it's time for bed.

With so much to get done, it doesn't leave much time to do much of anything -- even think properly.

"You just kind of lose touch with everyone outside of the basketball world," Watts said. "One time I lost track of when I was supposed to meet up with my mom. I was balling over here and she was waiting for me at my apartment and I totally forgot about it."

The schedule is intense but it's also beneficial, even if he does have to apologize to mom every now and then. Watts says he spends so much time around basketball that it's hard to not get better.

The schedule also forces him to manage his time more efficiently. If he needs to get something done that's not on the schedule, he can't afford to waste any time.

"It really makes you organized and responsible to be places on time," Watts said.

As one of just two scholarship seniors on this year's team, Watts' maturation can only be considered a good thing for the Tar Heels. In his post-season meeting with coach Roy Williams at the end of last season the two discussed the expansion of his leadership role.

The battle for playing time will be settled on the practice court starting in October, but no matter how that turns out, Watts is one of UNC's two seniors on next season's roster and his experience includes being part of a national championship team.

Naturally soft-spoken, he is working hard to make the transition into more of a leader.

"He talked with me about being a more vocal leader and being that security blanket in practice if I see someone doing something wrong and he can't see it," Watts said. "(He said) 'Don't embarrass them. Just pull them to the side, say something to them and just work with them.'"

Being a leader isn't always as big as pulling someone to the side on the court, either. Sometimes it means doing something as small as sending out a text message to remind his teammates of a meeting.

"Just little stuff like that that gets you used to being that leader that you have to be during the season," Watts said.


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