03/22/2013 07:04 EDT | Updated 05/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Curtain falls on Hamilton basketball star's NCAA career

It’s not the ending Tyrone Watson would have written. But the basketball star, who grew up in Hamilton, has closed the book on a college basketball career that took him to three March Madness tournaments with the New Mexico State Aggies.

“I’ve had three chances, and fell short all three times," Watson said. "But they were great experiences and we share great memories.”

The Aggies were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.

Although he’s become a team leader, Watson spent most of his final game on the bench nursing a sprained ankle.

“The stage, and the cameras, and the press, I think was a huge distraction for the younger guys,” Watson said. “And me not playing and able to mentor them on the court like I usually do, didn’t work in our favour.”

Despite the injury, Watson managed a few minutes of March Madness play.

“The coach said ‘give it your all and try to get up there. I want you on the court for your last game’,” Watson said.

Turbulent final season

The loss capped a turbulent final college season for Watson.

Not only was it derailed by the injury, he also served a suspension and found himself in legal trouble after a fight off the court.

“I got myself into an altercation. Basically the situation blew out of proportion," Watson said.

Watson grew up in Hamilton among four sisters and seven brothers. He still has family in the city and visits in the summer.

After initially playing soccer as a kid, he turned his attention to basketball in middle school. He never looked back.

Watson led his Cathedral High School team to two consecutive Greater Hamilton Athletic Conference titles.

Upon graduation, he worked to bring his grades up and landed a spot at New Mexico State. Now preparing for his college graduation, Watson said he hopes to play professional basketball.

The NBA is a long shot, Watson admitted, but there are professional basketball leagues in other places, such as Europe.

Or maybe there’s another option for the Hamilton Tiger Cat’s fan.

“Everybody is begging me to come home and try out for the Ticats, so I might give that a shot,” Watson said, with a laugh.