South Kitsap senior Eric Wattree won’t be playing basketball at Eastern Washington after all.
Wattree, who committed to play for the Eagles in January, will play at the University of Hawaii-Hilo next season. He signed with the NCAA Division II program Tuesday.
“Man, it’s paradise, going from Port Orchard to Hawaii,” Wattree said. “How many people can say they can do that?”
How did Eastern Washington fall out of the picture?
Well, Wattree was ready to sign his national letter of intent in February, but described having a falling out with Eastern coach Jim Hayford. Wattree didn’t want to go into details, but mentioned “having to stand up for myself and my family.” Wattree also said there were financial considerations that made decommitting from Eastern necessary.
“It was best for me to go in a different direction,” he said. “It’s about where you can play at a high level and where you can enjoy it.”
Wattree received a full-scholarship offer from Hawaii-Hilo, which finished 9-15 last season.
Wattree will be reunited with former South Kitsap teammate Ryley Callaghan, who is headed to Hawaii-Hilo after playing two seasons at Peninsula College. Wattree was a sophomore and Callaghan a senior when South Kitsap made it to the Class 4A state tournament in 2014. The Wolves finished 18-8 that season.
“I’ve always looked up to Ryley,” Wattree said.
Even though signing day didn’t turn out to be one of the highlights of his high school career, Wattree feels he’s in a great situation moving forward.
“It definitely was a challenging day for me,” Wattree said. “Since that day ended, I felt like I’ve grown a lot. … I’m going to look at this as a blessing.”