Nicolò Origgi delivers another gem of a player profile here as he looks at a young American plying his trade with the champions of Italy who just happens to share his name with another athlete of note
What can a retired long jumper and a springy basketball player have in common besides a fair share of sheer athleticism? The name, of course. Mitchell Watt – the baller – will likely never equal his namesake’s international achievements simply because of an American citizenship that prevents thousands of well-regarded pros from chasing Olympic glory, yet he is worthily putting food on the table while doing his thing in his own sport. If one coincidence is not enough, he has just inherited his current job from the guy with whom shares a common past as a teenage soccer goalie and an unmistakable left-handedness.
Well distant from Esteban Batista’s overpowering approach for obvious build-related – according to official data, their 2.08m tall frames are separated by twenty kilos in the Uruguayan mammoth’s favor – reasons, the Arizona native embodies the bruiser’s role in a more suitable way nonetheless. A relentless dynamo on both ends of the floor, Watt is the perfect partner for any passer thanks both to his timing and ability to finish around the hoop – to the crowd’s delight, usually in an emphatic way. The almost telepathic partnership developed with legendary Israeli point guard Meir Tapiro throughout his prolonged stint in the Middle-East country, as well as the past troubled season in Caserta spent feeding off the tasty crumbs left here and there by the otherwise scoring-minded Edgar Sosa, should leave no doubt about that. Turning beautiful dimes into assists on the statsheet, however, is not the only part of the Buffalo Bulls alumni’s game highlighting his explosiveness. Above-the-rim putbacks might always come out of nowhere and, even though heel flicks are not allowed in regular play, soaring blocks often leading to thunderous transition jams are a good consolation prize.
If this could already be enough to get by among the hordes of raw blue-collar big men found all over the world, the man fittingly nicknamed Swatt brings more to the table. Not a devastating stationary low-post threat but equally capable of pulling unsuspectable tricks out of the bag, he enjoys facing the basket in order to set up his trademark lefty jump hook from either block. A respectable mid-range game that can on occasion stretch out to the three-point line is therefore the key to keep rival counterparts committed and blow past them in case of unbalanced closeouts. On the defensive side, it is not all about chase-down and weak-side rejections since quick feet enable the former NBA hopeful – multiple Summer League and training camp appearances brought him on the verge of potentially securing a ring – to stay in front of many backcourt opponents and, thus, successfully challenge their attempts. In addition, sacrificing further opportunities for make-or-break highlight-caliber plays – as well as the body – is not a problem when having the guts to get steamrolled is the best choice available to get a stop.