LaTonya Watson Named Assistant Women's Basketball Coach
BOULDER - LaTonya Watson has been named an assistant women's basketball coach at the University of Colorado, head coach Linda Lappe announced on Monday.
Watson, a Colorado assistant under Ceal Barry from 1996-2005, returns to Boulder after serving three years as an assistant coach at American University (2008-11) and three years coaching and teaching in the prep ranks in Georgia.
"LaTonya brings a lot of experience to the University of Colorado and we are thrilled to have her on our staff," Lappe said. "She is a great Buff and knows the passion it takes for a program to be successful. A teacher by nature, she will do a great job mentoring and developing our guards just as she has in the past both at CU and American University."
Ironically, Watson's first season at Colorado coincided with the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996 and she rejoins the Buffaloes as they enter the Pacific-12 Conference for the 2011-12 season.
"I want to be a part of making Colorado one of the premier teams in the Pac-12," Watson said. "I feel invested into the program and (the chance) to help a former player that I had the honor of helping to be successful, makes me excited to be coming back."
At American, Watson assisted the Eagles to a three-year record of 63-31 (.670), back-to-back Patriot League regular season titles (2010, '11), consecutive appearances in the league tournament championship game (2010, '11) and repeat appearances in the Postseason WNIT (2009, '10).
Watson coached American's perimeter players while also serving as the recruiting coordinator. She handled many facets of the Eagles' program including opponent scheduling, scouting, recruit travel and organizing community service projects. Watson developed three players to conference honors as the wing positional coach, including two-time all-league selection and 2010 Patriot League Player of the Year Michelle Kirk.
Prior to joining the American staff, Watson spent two years as a math instructor and head girls basketball coach at Chamblee (Ga.) Charter High School (2006-08) and one campaign as a math teacher and assistant varsity girls coach at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Ga. (2005-06). At Chamblee, Watson led her team to a two-year record of 34-18. During her two-year tenure, Chamblee increased its number of wins by 17 and Watson helped two players obtain college basketball scholarships. Her team was named the DeKalb County AAA Team of the Month in January 2008.
Her experiences at American and with the prep programs in Georgia, served as an affirmation of the hard work put in during her first reign in Boulder.
"It was reinforcement to the value of a team," Watson said. "We really had a program based on team here. Along with reinforcing how important the fundamentals of the game are, those things have gone with me and for it to be reinforced each time, is a tremendous amount of value in itself."
|Coach LaTonya Watson (bottom, left) helped lead the Buffaloes to the inaugural Big 12 Tournament championship in 1997.|
Watson's first stint with Colorado spanned nine successful seasons, sporting a record of 152-92 and five NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2002 Elite Eight. She was the academic liaison on Barry's staff, working closely with the Herbst Academic Center in monitoring and mentoring the academic needs of the program. Watson helped the team achieve a Top 25 ranking on the 1999 WBCA Team Honor Roll. During her coaching tenure 92 percent (22 of 24) of all players graduated.
She helped mentor 10 players who went on to play professionally, but most notably as it pertains to her second term, Watson was on the CU bench during Lappe's five-year playing career (1998-03).
"I've kept my eyes on her career," Watson said. "Her trademark is working extremely hard and being an overachiever in every facet of her life. A lot of the same attributes Linda possesses, I mimic those as well. It's an easy choice when a coach such as Linda shares the same values. I'm excited to be part of her career."
Watson is a 1992 graduate of Eastern Michigan University where she majored in mathematics and minored in English and literature and played point guard for then-head coach Cheryl Getz from 1988-92. A 1992 All-Mid American Conference second team pick, Watson graduated ranking second in assists (446) and seventh in points (1,296) on the school's career lists. She was also a three-time Academic All-MAC selection, a member of the 1989 MAC All-Freshman team and earned honorable mention to the 1991 all-league squad.
She began her coaching career in 1992 as a graduate assistant at EMU. After the 1992-93 season, she coached the girls volleyball, basketball and track teams at Dunbar Middle School in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1995 her responsibilities transferred to Dunbar's high school team where she was an assistant. From August 1995 until her initial hire at CU, she was a high school math teacher at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich.