Michigan State Basketball: Confident Rocket Watts is bad news for Big Ten

Rocket Watts, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rocket Watts, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Confidence is booming for freshman guard Rocket Watts which makes Michigan State basketball even more of a threat to win the Big Ten.

Streaking down the court with his arms lowered to the floor making the “three” sign with both hands nearly scraping the hardwood, Rocket Watts felt the love from thousands of fans inside the Breslin Center last Friday.

The freshman guard had caught fire in the second half, going on a personal 8-0 run where he drilled a couple of big 3-pointers over Wisconsin defenders, including a nasty step-back over Brad Davison which had the roof about to pop off Breslin.

Watts finished the game with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and 3-for-5 from deep. He added three assists and three rebounds in 16 minutes and for the first time in his young career, he broke double digits in the scoring column in consecutive games. His coming out party finally took place, but he needs to keep the ball rolling.

Keeping that momentum with a newfound confidence will be important and that’s bad news for the rest of the Big Ten because it gives the Spartans another scoring option — this time off the bench.

With Josh Langford out for the year, the Spartans needed to develop solid third and fourth scorers after Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. So far, they’ve done that with Gabe Brown and Aaron Henry, but Watts needs to be the No. 5 guy or No. 1 off the bench. He has all the ability in the world to be a 10-points-per-game scorer, but he needs to build off this hot streak.

Before he went down with an injury in early December, which kept him out four weeks, he was averaging 6.5 points per game while shooting a mere 27 percent from the floor and 21 percent from 3-point range. He struggled mightily with his shot and confidence was spiraling.

Since his return a few weeks ago, Watts is averaging 7.7 points and he’s shooting 51 percent from the floor and 35 percent from deep. His long-range shot is coming along slowly but surely, but a 14 percent increase over the past few weeks is an encouraging sign. He has more confidence in his step-back jumper and he’s no longer hesitating to hunt for his shot.

Confidence was always key for him and through the first 1.5 months of his college career, he was still adjusting and he wasn’t his usual prolific-scoring self, but that’s slowly changing.

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What we saw against Wisconsin could be a sign of things to come and if he can bring that type of energy and scoring threat off the bench, the Spartans are going to be a nightmare for the rest of the Big Ten.