- National Teams
Cheshire Phoenix have sent out a strong message in recent weeks with a number of high-calibre additions – none more so than Demond Watt.
The American joins the BBL side having completed a successful spell in Iceland. And now, Watt wants to continue the winning habit with the ‘Nix.
He said: “Winning silverware will be my only goal. After getting a taste of winning, that’s the only feeling I want to have every season I play from here on out.”
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to play in the BBL and also to be able to see a different part of Europe I haven’t been to. I heard the UK was a nice place to visit, but to actually get to live there for 8-9 months, I’ll get to experience a lot hopefully.”
Watt joined KR Reykjavik in February and helped the side go on to win the league and play-offs double. The American admitted to feeling the pressure, but was able to play a leading role for his side by averaging 15.7 points per game along with 11.9 rebounds in his 18 games.
They topped the Dominos League with an almost perfect 21-1 record before clinching the playoffs with a 3-1 victory over Grindavik.
“It was very pleasing to be able to go to KR and contribute in a positive way for the club,” Watt said. “It was hard at first because they were already a winning team, and they felt they were one piece away from being clear favourites.
“I put some pressure on myself as I didn’t want to mess up the chemistry the team had already established and I felt that if we didn’t win the Championship I would be the one to blame. So to come in and be able to adjust my game to fit in perfectly with their style and win the title was a great accomplishment for me.”
After finishing his college career with Texas A&M CC in 2011, the 25-year-old made the trip overseas to Europe for his rookie season with Eco Orebro in the Swedish Basketligan. Watt averaged 16.6 ppg in what has been his only full season so far having since had short stints in the US IBA, Finland and as previously mentioned, Iceland.
“My career has been pretty interesting so far,” he reflected. “Playing for a team that won 5-6 games all season to a team that missed the playoffs by one game, then going to KR and winning a Championship. Having to wait two seasons before getting signed and playing half seasons the past 2 years has been a challenge.”
“I’ve learned a lot these last three seasons; how to go through a season and not have much success, disappointment, patience and how it feels to be a champion.”
Watt admitted that there was interest from teams in Israel and Luxembourg but it was a straight-forward decision after speaking to new head-coach John Coffino and Robbie Peers.
He said: “The biggest factors in me deciding to go to Cheshire were Coach Coffino and Robbie. The Coach told me how he felt I would be a great addition to the club and would fit in with the pieces he was trying to bring in. Robbie let me know the club are moving in the right direction and they were going into this season with a goal of winning a Championship.”
Cheshire have been very active in the off-season already with a strong roster assembled by Coffino and his assistants. American guards Aleek Pauline and Roderick Wilmont bring plenty of experience, as does Croatian centre Sasa Cuic while leading Brits Devan Bailey and new recruit David Aliu have penned two-year-deals with the club.
There is still one import slot available as Pauline holds French nationality meaning there could potentially be a return of one of last year’s key stars. Victor Moses is unlikely to come back to the BBL following his impressive rookie season, but Watt could prove to be a more than capable replacement.
The 6’9″ forward’s career stats will excite ‘Nix fans, especially considering that Watt has always competed in the highest league in spells across Europe. High rebounding numbers and efficient field goal percentages are further signs of encouragement that he may be able to replicate Moses’ dominance in the paint.
And Watt hinted at a few things to look out for the upcoming season.
“The fans can expect to see a hard-working player on and off the court. My biggest strengths I would say are my rebounding, versatility and ability to finish. I’m able to play team basketball and always put winning first.”
He added: “I hope to gain more assets to my game. Every season I have gained something or knew what to work on so coming to Cheshire, I’ll be looking to improve my game and gain more confidence.”
The new season is now just a couple of months away and Cheshire are already being regarded as possible title contenders and Watt believes he can hit the ground running.
“I’m very confident that I will make a positive impact in the BBL. I’ve always had individual success in all the leagues I have been to. I feel that the team and coach will put a great team together so we can all have impacts in the BBL.”
Check out Watt in action with KR last season: