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MSU men's basketball guard Rocket Watts enters NCAA transfer portal

March 29, 2021
<p>Sophomore guard Rocket Watts (2) passes the ball during a game against Ohio State.</p>

Sophomore guard Rocket Watts (2) passes the ball during a game against Ohio State.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

After two seasons, Michigan State sophomore guard Rocket Watts has entered the NCAA transfer portal.

A spokesperson for the MSU men's basketball program confirmed reports of Watts' decision to The State News on Monday.

In a statement, Head Coach Tom Izzo said the decision was made "mutually" after several discussions over the past week. Izzo also noted Watts' change from point guard to shooting guard, and his struggles to adjust to this change due to the shortened off-season, as a factor.

"The way we live our lives and how we operate were drastically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. Even under normal circumstances, making a change like we did this year with Rocket would have been challenging. In preparation for last season, we had asked Rocket to take on a new role. It’s the type of position change where a spring, summer and fall of practice would have been extremely beneficial for him. Unfortunately, the pandemic created circumstances beyond anyone’s control. As a result, he didn’t get the necessary practice time, which put him in a difficult and challenging situation. After several discussions over the past week, we mutually agreed that he may benefit from a fresh start elsewhere and is putting his name in the transfer portal. Rocket has made progress in all facets of his life, especially making tremendous strides academically. We appreciate the contributions he’s made over the last two years and wish Rocket nothing but the best in his future. He’ll always be part of the Spartan Family," Izzo's full statement reads.

Watts originally joined the team in 2019 as a Top 40 recruit and four-star prospect, picking the Spartans over Louisville, Florida State, Missouri and more. As a freshman, he went on to be selected as a member of the All-Big Ten Freshman team.

This season the sophomore appeared in all 28 played games. He finished fourth on the team, averaging 7.7 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Watts made a statement on his Twitter, saying "I'm entering the transfer portal after negotiating a difficult decision with my family."

The combo guard is the first scholarship player to transfer from the program since Javon Bess and Marvin Clark Jr. did so in 2016. His departure also places MSU just one player over the scholarship limit of 13 for the 2021-22 season, with Aaron Henry's decision on whether or not to enter the NBA Draft still being up in the air.

Watts had memorable moments during his two seasons and was a key piece of the rotation during much of the 2020-21 season.

Maybe his best game came in the final contest of the Spartans regular season this year when he scored 21 points in an upset of then AP Top 5 Michigan, a win that sealed the Spartans case for an at-large bid in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

This is the third roster shake-up following the 2020-21 season. On March 24, it was announced that redshirt junior guard Jack Hoiberg was entering the transfer portal and on March 27, it was announced that Northeastern guard Tyson Walker would be joining the Spartans in their 2021-22 campaign.

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