It’s difficult getting out of the “what-ifs” during this time.
What if the basketball season hadn’t been cut short? What if Michigan State men's basketball was celebrating a National Championship, as ESPN's Joe Lunardi predicted in his Twitter tournament?
But among these what-ifs, I’ve looked back at what I do know about this men’s basketball season. As one of our beat reporters, I compiled a list of interviews and the storylines I planned on pursuing. I saved these for March, the month when basketball content would peak, and planned to tell all the stories I had saved for so long in my back pocket.
Izzo said the friendship he sees in Ahrens and Watts reminds him of these characters because they are from “opposite ends of the world.”
“The bond that those guys have got has been amazing and it's been one of the neater things that I’ve dealt with,” Izzo said. “I'm sure Rock would say that, and I'm sure Arnie would say that.”
With the story idea planted in my mind, I rushed to the locker room to find Watts and waited until I could talk to him alone to get his input. When I finally asked him about his friendship with Ahrens that Izzo had mentioned, he immediately referenced the mentorship aspect to their unexpected relationship.
“My first time on campus, he was like a big brother to me,” Watts said. “He told me he was going to have (my back) the whole way.”
Ahrens, who dealt with more than a fair share of injuries throughout his five years, became the mentor.
“When I was injured, I didn’t really know how to go about that because I never had a big injury my whole career,” Watts said. “He's been through a lot of injuries. He was just talking to me, giving me advice and telling me, stay working on my game.”
Izzo said during their year as teammates, Ahrens contributed a lot to Watts’ progression as a player.
“He has done so much for (Watts),” Izzo said of Ahrens. “I appreciate (Ahrens) for not quitting on me and not quitting on himself.”
I started this story on senior day, a day I never expected would be the last day of the season.
“Leaders got to lead, and other people will follow,” Ahrens said. “We have to continue to prepare each and every one of these guys because in March you don’t get a second chance, it’s win or go home.”
Little did he know there wouldn’t even be a chance in March. But that doesn't eliminate the mentorship legacy that Ahrens left behind and the friendship he found in Watts.
Share and discuss “The mentorship that turned into friendship for MSU's Rocket Watts, Kyle Ahrens” on social media.