At halftime of their September 29th football game, Mississippi State University inducted Tony Watts, a four-year letter winner who helped the MSU basketball program reach new levels of success in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, into the MSU Bulldog hall of fame. For Watts, it was an incredible honor. “It was completely unexpected.” Said Watts from his home in Kentucky. “It’s not something I ever dreamed about as a kid. Being in the Hall of Fame is something special. Having others feel I’m worthy of this blessing by giving me this great honor is something I am truly grateful for.”
While Watts was surprised to receive such recognition, his incredible contributions for the Bulldogs speaks for itself. Posting career averages of 13.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assist and 1.4 steals per game, Watts was a major part of the success MSU had during his career and was also key to one of the most memorable games in NCAA history.
On January 24th, 1990 Watts posted a career high 29 points to lead State to a 104-102 quadruple overtime victory over Ole’ Miss. It is a game that Watts fondly remembers. “Getting to play a game and a half of basketball against an in-state rival like that and being able to deliver in that way for my team is something I will always remember. It was an incredible game for our team.”
While the legendary game against Ole’ Miss was incredible and lives on in the memories of Bulldog fans everywhere, For Watts it was a game his freshman year that he remembers most. “The night I hit 11 shots in a row against Alabama. That game was special. To be that hot as a freshman and deliver that big and contribute that much to my team was something I’ll never forget. To do it against Alabama in a close game, it really meant a lot to me to be able perform like that on that stage.”
Since graduating from MSU in 1992, Watts has gone on to exemplify what it means to be a game changer for life by serving in the education system in Kentucky. “I work as a chief of schools overseeing five schools in my county.” Watts elaborated about his impactful post-basketball career. “My goal is to one day become a district superintendent.”
When describing what has helped him build his career in education, Watts takes little time in giving credit to his experience on the court and at MSU in particular. “Basketball taught me so many lessons. One of the biggest is how to stay cool and calm in every situation. When you play in front of 25,000 people you can’t get too high or too low. In education and leadership positions that has helped me a lot. It lets me step back, assess and make good decisions that benefit the students, teachers and staff that I work with.”
Having already been named to the Bulldog all century team and now a member of the hall of fame, Watts greatest legacy will almost certainly be the thousands of lives he now impacts on a daily basis through his work in education. It goes to show just how big a positive impact one person can have when they embrace a life of giving back.