20191230 MBB vs Detroit Action CMcInelly

Anton Watson in action against Detroit Mercy on Dec. 30, 2019. The freshman forward scored 11 points in Gonzaga's 93-72 win.

Gonzaga men’s basketball’s freshman forward Anton Watson will not be returning to the court for the remainder of the season, opting to have surgery on his left shoulder, according to a press release issued by GU.

“Anton is one of the toughest guys I’ve coached,” head coach Mark Few said in the release. “He’s battled through a lot, because he cares about this team. This is the right thing to do moving forward in his career, and he has a bright future with our program.”

Shoulder issues have reappeared multiple times for Watson throughout the season. In four separate games, his shoulder subluxated — meaning it popped out of place. This most recently occurred in the Zags’ win over Loyola Marymount last week, in which he played 5 minutes.

The 6-foot-8-inch Spokane native played in 15 games for the Bulldogs, starting four at the beginning of the season. He averaged 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in that span, providing versatility on both ends of the court as the eighth member of Few’s rotation. That rotation will likely shrink to seven, as fellow freshman forwards Martynas Arlauskas and Pavel Zakharov have played sparingly so far, even when Watson was absent.

Watson’s absence was noted even before it was officially announced, as spectators noticed him wearing street clothes. Jim Meehan of The Spokesman-Review broke the news via Twitter before it was officially announced.

A date was not announced for the operation, but Meehan wrote for The Spokesman that it will “likely be next week”. It was also not stated whether GU would attempt to pursue a medical redshirt for Watson, but with the season almost halfway over, it would likely be impossible without a waiver.

Connor Gilbert is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @ConnorJGilbert.

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