Certain players respond to fire and brimstone coaching tendencies during games, but don't count 6-11 Darryl Watkins of Paterson (NJ) Catholic H.S. among that lot.
The agile 235 pounder, who scored 28 points, grabbed 13 points, and blocked four shots on Saturday in a thrilling 74-69 win over Bergen Catholic H.S., requires a more docile approach.
So says Watkins' coach at Pateron Catholic, Tommie Patterson.
"In his past two games, Darryl has really stepped up, and become more comfortable with himself," Patterson explained. "I don't think he's afraid to make a mistake, commit a turnover, or take a shot, because he doesn't have anybody yelling and screaming at him."
During the spring and summer months, Watkins suits up for Jimmy Salmon's Tim Thomas Playaz program. Salmon, who has won many titles in recent years on the travel team circuit, isn't afraid to get in a player's face when he feels that player needs some motivation.
"I don't think that Darryl is going to have a down game this year, at least I am hoping that he doesn't," Patterson continued. "I lay off him during the games, but I do scream and yell at him in practice, and he steps up."
In fact, Watkins broke the backboard in practice recently, a direct response to a tirade from Patterson, the coach said.
"Our guys do a great job in practice of pushing him around and knocking him down, so that when he comes out here, it's not a difficult game for him," Patterson explained. "They are pretty physical with him, and I don't call fouls during practice."
Patterson is hoping that Watkins' early season play is a harbinger of things to come. It will need to be if the Cougars are thinking about making a deep run in the New Jersey State playoffs come March.
"I am hoping that this continues throughout the season, and I can't see him having a down year, because he's a senior and he wants to go out a winner," Patterson said. "He was actually out there being vocal tonight, and he usually doesn't talk, but he's comfortable around these guys."
Watkins is in his second year at Paterson Catholic after transferring in from Passaic Tech for the 2001-2002 campaign. Due to New Jersey State transfer rules, he had to sit out 30 days last year at PC before gaining his athletic eligibility.
Rivalshoops.com has seen him in action a ton of times over the past two years with the Playaz Basketball Club, and Watkins often appears unmotivated and disinterested. There are times with the Playaz that Watkins has played with passion, and when he has, he can be a dominant force on either end of the floor.
"I think it's all a matter of Darryl being comfortable with who's around him," Patterson said. "I wish I would have had him for four years, because he might be a monster now."