GW's Watanabe aims to be college basketball's ambassador to Japan
Yuta Watanabe became the first person born in Japan to earn a scholarship to play NCAA Division I basketball when he signed with George Washington prior to the start of this season. Although he is the first to earn a scholarship, Watanabe -- labeled "The Chosen One" by the Japan Times -- is the fourth Japanese-born player to play DI basketball.
Watanabe played his high-school ball in Connecticut, so the 6-foot-8 freshman didn't need to take too long to adjust to American basketball. Watanabe has provided a spark off the bench for the Colonials, averaging eight points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Watanabe's crowning achievement came when he hit a three-pointer that proved to be the knockout punch in George Washington's upset of then-No. 11 Wichita State at the Diamond Head Classic championship game in Hawaii earlier this season.