For the second time this season, a Penn State Basketball player has been named as Big Ten Freshman of the Week. For the second time this season, that player is Mike Watkins.
The big man was honored despite playing in just one game this past week, a 52-50 come-from-behind win over Minnesota. Watkins played a vital role in the defensive struggle, leading all players with 15 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 6-for-9 from the field in just 24 minutes. The rest of the Nittany Lions went 11-for-47 on field goals.
After the game, head coach Pat Chambers talked about Watkins’s effort.
Mike is a difference maker for sure. He gets every rebound. He plays hard. He had a huge offense rebound at the end. Then to make his free throws is just awesome. He is playing really hard, competing at a high level, and he has so much more room to grow. I knew he would make this impact.
Although Watkins’s presence is mostly felt on the defensive end of the floor thanks to his 2.8 blocks per game, he’s starting to be more of a threat on offense with double-digit scoring in each of his last two games. Penn State fans can next see the redshirt freshman in action when the Lions take on Indiana at home on Wednesday.
Michigan State’s own talented freshman Miles Bridges was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Week alongside Watkins. The future NBA draft pick averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks against Minnesota and Ohio State.