Exclusive: Tom Izzo Talks Mark "Rocket" Watts Growth for Spartan Basketball

Hondo S. Carpenter

East Lansing, MI—In all of my years as a reporter, no matter the sport, I have never seen a player mature on and off the court as rapidly as true Michigan State basketball freshman Mark "Rocket" Watts. While privileged to watch it nearly every day, it was astounding. In an exclusive interview with the Spartan's coach Tom Izzo, I asked him if my impression was understating it.

"You are not understating that; you are, to be honest with you, the privilege you get to be a coach, or I think to even be a reporter, in my program at least, where it is pretty much open door, even though I get often condemned for hiding things, I think for the most part we are as open door as you get when you talk about the open locker room. You can see the kid who is crying, mad, upset, or happy. That is the advantage of keeping the locker rooms open. I think when I look at Rocket, we all know he went through a very tough high school thing, you followed it strongly, you interviewed him back then, you know the whole situation, I couldn't agree with you more."

Izzo elaborated, "The most important part of my job is, as they say, taking a boy and making him a man. But my other most rewarding part is taking a guy that maybe isn't in an element that is going to make him successful to life to help bring him into it. It is a process that isn't over yet but, I couldn't agree more that the way he has grown and how those players, I get some credit, my staff deserves credit, but you know who deserves credit is Cassius, Xavier, and Gabe Brown, guys who helped him grow. It has been amazing; Rocket is going to put himself in a position to be one great player."

Izzo finished by saying of Watts, "He is tough; he is athletic, He is not afraid, sometimes to a fault as far as taking a shot here and there. I have grown to love the kid and appreciate what he is, and now we just have to continue the process. It is sad because these 3-4 months, or who knows how long, are things that hurt the growth process too because who knows what he could have done at the end and that would have helped propel him for the summer. I would agree that he has come as far as a lot of kids, and yet he is still in the process of getting better."

Keep your computer tuned to Spartan Nation for more of our exclusive interview with Tom Izzo all week.

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