UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State men's basketball forward Mike Watkins will return to play for the Nittany Lions for the 2019-2020 season. In 2018-19, Watkins became only the 13th Nittany Lion with 700 career rebounds, with 725 for 10th all-time, and has a 9.9 points per game career scoring average as he approaches 1,000 career points with 879.
"I'm excited to finish my collegiate career as a Nittany Lion," said Watkins, who hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "My teammates, Coach (Patrick) Chambers and the staff, and everyone around the program, they have been such a big part of my life and have supported me. I'm proud to come back for my final season and represent my Penn State family."
With his sixth double-double of the 2018-19 season, the 6-9, 254-lb. forward moved into a tie with Geary Claxton for Penn State's No. 2 spot for career double-doubles with 26. Five of his six double-doubles this past season came vs. Big Ten competition. He had 18 points and a season-best 16 rebounds vs. Colgate for his first double-double of the season. Watkins set Penn State's freshman record for with eight double-doubles in 2016-17.
"We are ecstatic Mike has decided to return for his final season at Penn State," said Penn State men's basketball coach Patrick Chambers. "Having him back at full strength provides Mike the opportunity to continue in his development on and off the floor.
Watkins scored in double figures 11 times in 2018-19 with a season-best and game-high 19 points at Michigan, going 8-11 from the field to go along with his game-high 12 rebounds.
Leading Penn State in field goal percentage for three-straight years, Watkins' 61.7 career field goal percentage tops the Nittany Lion list. He ranks second on Penn State's all-time list with 199 blocked shots and owns two of the top six single-season totals with 90 in 2016-17 and 68 in 2017-18, the latter when his season was cut short by injury.
A member of the Big Ten's 2017-18 All-Defensive Team, Watkins also earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media that season. He finished the 2018-19 season ranked in the league's top 10 in four statistical categories, including rebounds (7.4 avg., 9th), field goal percentage (56.1%, 6th), blocked shots (41, t-7th) and defensive rebounds (5.2 avg., 9th).
Following the 2018-19 season, Watkins was presented with the program's Lou Lamie Most Inspirational Award as he persevered in his return to the court after an injury ended his 2017-18 season and he courageously brought attention to mental health issues.
Watkins ranks in the top 30 of the NCAA's active career leaders in four categories: blocked shots (13th, 199), blocked shot average (2.24, 19th), field goal percentage (61.7, 22nd) and double-doubles (26, 26th).