<
>

Alaska Aces add former UNC forward Justin Watts

Former University of North Carolina Tar Heel forward Justin Watts will join the Alaska Aces as its import for the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

Watts will replace Branden Dawson, who is over the 6-foot-5 height limit for imports.

"We measured him (Watts) and he's right about 6-4 just to make sure he makes height limit," Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso told ESPN5. "He played for UNC for four years, went to a good school, coached by a very good coach in Roy Williams and was part of the 2009 NCAA champion team."

The 29-year-old Watts watched from the bench Monday when the Aces fell to Korean pro team KCC Egis 92-79 in a scrimmage at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong.

Watts is coming off a recent stint with King Szczecin in the Polish League where he averaged 9.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 14 games. He won a championship with the Rockhampton Rockets in the Queensland Basketball League in 2013 before seeing action in other countries like Mexico, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Lithuania and Switzerland.

Cariaso, who is coming in to replace Alex Compton, is eager to bring Watts on board and said the import will bring needed versatility to the lineup.

"He's more of a wing than post guy and that's gonna put pressure on our bigs, which is exactly the idea," Cariaso said.

The Aces could have used Watts' help against Korean team KCC Egis. The Aces trailed by double-digits heading into the third quarter. Alaska got within 79-74 with four minutes remaining before KCC Egis' American import Marcus Keene took over by scoring eight of his team's last 13 points.

"We're not at the kind of game shape (we expected to be in) and for this game, turnovers killed us," Cariaso said.

Alaska though has plenty of time to adjust before the Commissioner's Cup opens on Sept. 20. The Aces scrimmage against the NorthPort Batang Pier on Wednesday, before taking on the Blackwater Elite on Friday as they continue their Governors' Cup buildup.