The accolades continue to pour in for Choppee High School graduate Fred Watson.
Now the head coach of Miles College basketball in Fairfield, Alabama, Watson was named to the Silver Waves Media 50 Impactful Division II/National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes Head Coaches list on June 3.
“It’s significant,” Watson said. “The word ‘impactful’ means more than on the court. To impact the lives of young men is one of my greatest accomplishments. To win their lives is what it’s all about for me. It’s a great honor. Coming from a smaller school, it’s an honor to be recognized amongst coaches from bigger schools. It puts a spotlight on the program and brings great attention to the institution as a whole that is much needed.”
This was the third national award Watson received this year. Back in April, he was named the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year by HoopDirt.com and BOXTOROW.
Watson guided the Golden Bears to a 24-4 record this season and the program’s first-ever back-to-back 20-win seasons. Going 16-3 in Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play, Watson led the team to its longest-ever in-season winning streak (13 games) and had them ranked 19th nationally in Division II at one point en route to a SIAC Western Division title for the second straight season.
Watson also won Coach of the Year in the SIAC for the second time in his two years at Miles College after leading the Golden Bears to back-to-back conference tournament titles. Miles was given a No. 8 seed in the national tournament, but the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.
Watson has won Coach of the Year in the SIAC seven times overall, the other five times when he led Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina to conference tournament championships. Watson was the head coach at Benedict from 2002 to 2018 and also played at the school as a small forward from 1994 until he graduated in 1998.
Having played and coached at Historically Black Colleges and Universities for more than half his life, Watson is proud to be one of two coaches representing HBCUs on the list of 50 impactful coaches.
“It gives us exposure,” Watson said. “It highlights what HBCUs have that the industry has overlooked. It’s great to be a part of that list. There were several other guys who were deserving, but I was pleased to be a part of it.”
Miles College also received an important award for academics this season: The Commissioner’s Cup, which is awarded to the team with the highest grade point average in the SIAC.
Watson hopes the national attention he’s getting inspires people in the basketball community back in Georgetown County.
“I want to get as much exposure to this underserved area as possible,” he said. “More guys from this area can learn (that they can make it, too).”