CJ Watson: Keep Working Hard Every Day

Brooklyn Nets’ CJ Watson had joined WNBA legend Chamique Holdsclaw and NBA Africa on the Sports Envoy trip to Senegal a couple of weeks ago, before attending the Basketball without Borders camp in Johannesburg, South Africa at the beginning of the month. He spoke to NBA Africa about his African experience and the potential of young kids playing basketball in Senegal.

Pawel Weszka, NBA Africa: How would you describe your experience in Senegal?

CJ Watson: It was a humbling experience. It was fun to get out there with the kids and play basketball. Other than basketball, it was good to experience the city. The people there are very nice and welcoming and just to see a different culture and how they live was great.

I thought the talent was very high. They just need to work maybe a little on their fundamentals, but even comparing to the kids in the US their age, I think they are pretty high and pretty up there.

I also met some great local coaches and got to go to the SEEDS Academy (Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal) and see what they do. The kids have their own dormitory where they stay. SEEDS provides the kids in Senegal with opportunities even to go to the States.

NBA Africa: It is you first trip to Africa. Is there any particular memory which sticks to mind from that trip?

Watson: Just the smile on the kids’ faces and seeing them very happy when me and Chamique were there. One of the kids told me today it was his first time meeting an NBA player, so it’s good to just go there and make their dreams come true. Also, it was first time we met (with Chamique), it was fun. I used to watch her play basketball when I was younger, when she was in Tennessee, so it was actually good to meet her.

NBA Africa: And how was Senegal different to South Africa?

Watson: South Africa is very different than Senegal. This is more like a bigger city here (Johannesburg), everything here (Johannesburg) is more up to date and Senegal is not really up to date, but I still like it there, mingling with the people and trying to experience what they come through on every day basis.

NBA Africa: What would be your message to the kids in Senegal be?

Watson: Keep working hard and keep practicing every day. They do have skills and they do have talent, so they need to keep working hard and getting better each and every day. They must come to camps like the Basketball without Borders, so they can get recognized and get exposure and they will be on the right track.

NBA Africa: Lastly, you have joined the Brooklyn Nets, what are your expectations for the next season and how will it be different from Chicago?

Watson: Hopefully we can all stay healthy and injury free, make a big run in the playoffs. Personally, I just need to get out there and do whatever the team needs, scoring, defending, leadership and hopefully the team wins. Media wise it will be a lot different (from Chicago), but other than that I think basketball will still be the same and hopefully we can win more and go far.