Watts, after clocking in at No. 10 on last year’s rankings, is back in the top-five this year. This was her first season with the Wisconsin Badgers after transferring out of Boston College, where she spent the first two years of her college career.
For the second time in three seasons, Watts led the country in scoring, with 74 points in 36 games. She also led the country with 49 assists, and finished tied for third with 25 goals. 50 of her points came at even strength, which topped all skaters in Division I.
She remains the only player to have won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as a freshman, which she accomplished two years ago with Boston College. She dropped off a bit with the Eagles last season but her offensive game completely rejuvenated with the Badgers this year, which to me says her sophomore season was a fluke. For the second time in her career, Watts was named a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top-10 Finalist, and also picked up Second Team All-America honors.
It’s clear by what she’s accomplished in the college game that Watts’ ceiling is super high. For most of the season, she looked like she was going to become the first player to win the Patty Kaz twice (and mark me down as being in the camp of people who were very surprised to not see her named as a Top-3 Finalist). She went on a tear within her first few games as a Badger and didn’t slow down the rest of the way.
Watts is a shifty player and a speedy skater who can generally beat opposing defenders with her hands and quickness. Her offensive instincts are phenomenal; she’s especially good with the puck on her stick and, along with her flair, brings a good degree of patience when it comes to holding possession to make a better play in the offensive zone.
Her shot is also a strong-suit; she has a very quick, accurate release that makes her a dangerous goal-scorer, and that at least partially helped power her to a 40-goal season as a rookie. But she also has the ability to make great plays for her teammates, something I think she’s doing more dynamically and with more consistently after one year at Wisconsin. Take a look at her read on this play to feed the overtime winner for Sophie Shirley:
And she’s not afraid to get creative to make individual plays, either, as evidenced by this goal in overtime, which clinched the Julianne Bye Cup for Wisconsin:
Watts is definitely on Team Canada’s radar, but she has yet to make her debut for the senior national team. The skillset is there for her to make an impact in the future, and if she hits her ceiling, she could be a top-six winger for Canada.
Is This Ranking Too High or Too Low?
Watts was first ranked No. 3 on our T25U25 list in 2018, after she won the Patty Kaz as a first-year. She then dropped to No. 10 in last year’s rankings and is back in the top-five this year. This is a little high for my liking, but I want to be clear that I still think Watts is a phenomenal player who deserves all the accolades she’s gotten and more. I think there are a handful of players who are a bit closer to reaching their full potential at this juncture, but there’s no denying Watts’ abilities, and I can’t really fault the voters for ranking her high based on her production and impact.