When the Hamburg Lions take to the basketball court in the coming school year, they’ll be doing so under the leadership of a Champ-ion coach.
Chanslor “Champ” Watson has accepted the basketball coach’s job at Hamburg High School.
“I am so excited to be home,” Watson said. “Hamburg has always been a special place. Family and friends run deep here for me.
“I reached out to several of my friends and family from Hamburg and asked them for permission to become a Lion. I needed their approval and support because most of these friendships go back close to 45-50 years.”
Watson has spent 16 years coaching, taking assistant and head courtside positions. He most recently spent three years coaching at Strong High School, taking the team to regional competition twice before leading them to the state tournament this season.
The Crossett native has also frequently returned to the area, hosting Another Level Basketball Camps every summer in Crossett, Hamburg and Fountain Hill.
When Watson took over the Strong basketball program, he had a substantially young team, down nine players from the year before. By the time he left, six of his players had received college scholarships to play basketball as undergraduates.
The coach said he plans to assess Hamburg’s younger players as he begins to build a basketball program at HHS.
“Development will be crucial for our program,” he said. “I am committed to putting in the work and I expect the same from our student-athletes. It’ll all work itself out, if we all put in the hard work to accomplish our team goals.”
Of the student athletes Watson has worked with in his capacity as lead or assistant coaching positions —which include stints at LR Parkview High School and the University of Arkansas at Monticello — a total of 25 have received scholarships.
In Little Rock, he worked under Arkansas legend Al Flanigan for 10 seasons, during which time the Parkview Patriots won six conference championships and went to the hardwood in the state championship six times, claiming the title in four of those matchups.
When he was at UAM, Watson was on the coaching staff that saw the Boll Weevils make a NCAA Sweet 16 bid in 2006, the year that the Weevils put up their most ever single-season wins with 21.
Watson likewise worked as the basketball coach at Texas College, a private HBCU located in Tyler, Texas, whose athletes compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Division I.
In addition to working as a coach, Watson is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield and was recognized by former Gov. Mike Huckabee as an Outstanding Citizen of the State of Arkansas.