FOLLOWING a solid freshman year with Caslteton University, Shoalhaven Tigers guard Josh Watts has decided to take on a new challenge in his sophomore season.
That challenge is transferring to Wesley College in Dover, Delaware - a decision he didn't make lightly.
"I started exploring options to transfer while I was still at Castleton during the spring," Watts said.
"I explored options in the New England area at schools which appeared to be a good fit for me.
"I somewhat knew about teams in the area, the leagues they played in and the Castleton coaching staff were very helpful in accommodating for my search for another school and contacting coaches."
Upon his return home to Australia in May, Watts stepped up his search for a new college in the United States, by looking outside of the New England area.
"The process of finding a school which suited me was a very time consuming process," he said.
"I had to find a school which offers my degree and was relatively close to a city with a big enough student body.
"The team also had to have roster spaces still available, as most of the recruiting for new players is done during the season.
"After having conversations with several coaches until in late June, I decided to transfer to Wesley College."
As much as he learnt by playing at Caslteton, alongside fellow Tiger Olu Sowunmi, deep down, the 19-year-old knew that he needed a fresh start for the 2019/20 season.
"Being apart of a losing season in college basketball is really tough," he said.
"I think that everyone on my team was definitely pushed to their mental and physical limits which was a real challenge for me but something I enjoyed.
"At the end of season meetings with the coaching staff, they laid out the direction the program going into next year and I wasn't prepared to roll the dice by returning to Castleton.
"I believe the move will put me in a better situation academically with a more challenging program, as well as be apart of a strong team culture and tradition as a Wesley Wolverine."
As he will be changing colleges, Watts will head back to the US on August 19, to prepare for his second of four seasons at the collegiate level.
"The move is a good step for my career as I get to experience a new area of the US with different players and coaching staff," he said.
"Wesley also provides some great basketball experience as they played against division one schools Princeton and Towson last previous season.
"There also may be an opportunity for the team to go on an international tour giving me more life experiences.
"I think it will prepare me for life after college, with it's pre-physical therapy degree converting over to Australia better."
Until then though, Watts will he out to help Scott Balsar's youth men's team's Waratah League finals quest.
"Playing for the Tigers will definitely help me going into the 2019/20 college season, as I get the opportunity to practice and play organised basketball against some really high level athletes," he said.
"We have college level guys in our own team as well as in other teams around the league, so it has definitely helped my game.
"In some ways gives me an advantage as there are very limited organised leagues that you can play in the US during their summer."
Watts' Tigers will look to build on their strong win against Illawarra when they head to Penrith to play the Panthers on Saturday from 7pm.