A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, our Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts” each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June.
HANFORD, Calif. — From football to basketball to baseball, recent Hanford High grad Juaron Watts-Brown can do it all. Including serving up snow cones this summer.
“I think it’s just because I have so much time on my hands,” Watts-Brown said. “My parents talked me into getting one. It’s my first job. I like it, gives me a little extra money in my pocket.”
Watts-Brown was coming off of a stellar junior campaign on the diamond. He had an overall ERA of 1.88 and was named “West Yosemite League Pitcher of the Year.” We’ll never know how his senior season would’ve played out, after it was cut short due to COVID-19.
“Heartbroken. Especially since it’s my senior season. Everybody was bought in this year, and it was gonna be a really special season for all of us,” explained Watts-Brown.
He’s lived in the Central Valley his entire life. Born in Visalia, moved to Exeter and then to Hanford. However, he’ll be making his biggest move yet, in August, when he heads to Lubbock, Texas to pursue his baseball dreams at Texas Tech.
“They’re a great program. Top five, been to the World Series four years in a row, and it just felt like home,” Watt-Brown said. “I will get better as a player and a person, I’ll grow up on my own.”
Watts-Brown also knows that joining a conference as big as the Big-12, will be a climb.
“I’m gonna be a little fish in a big pond,” Watts-Brown admitted. “So I gotta work as hard as I can to be one of the top guys at a top college. I’m excited to get to work and make the most out of my career.”
His pitching coach Dalton Silva has been working with Watts-Brown for the past several years and says his work ethic is second to none.
“When he puts his mind to something, he’s gonna do it,” said Silva. “If for some reason, he goes there and he feels he’s not the best guy, give it time and he will be one of the best guys there.”
The future Red Raiders focused on pitching after his sophomore year. He worked on his velocity and mechanics and eventually started to throw low 90s, but it’s been a process.
“Growing up, I wasn’t always on the All-Star teams and all of that, so I kinda do have a chip on my shoulder to work hard,” Watts-Brown explained. “People have always kinda doubted what I’ve been able to do. I’m gonna work as hard as I can, I’m gonna beat you, until I can’t do anything else.”
Even though Watts-Brown could’ve pursued football at the next level, with interest from Division I schools, he’s always envisioned himself on the Diamond.
“Ever since I was younger, I’ve always told myself I want to go pro in baseball,” Watts-Brown said with confidence. “The little books that you write in elementary school about what you want to do when you grow up, baseball was the thing that I always put in there.”