As the patriarch of basketball in this country, Ken Watson’s impact on basketball in Australia stretched over an incredible career of 60 years.

Learning his craft alongside men such as Ivor Burge in the 1940’s, Watson’s DNA is baked into the structure of the Melbourne Tigers, originally known as the Melbourne Church.

Over several decades, he played, coached and ran the club, transforming it into the most famous and powerful association in Australia.

After witnessing the shuffle offence at Auburn University in Alabama, he revolutionised basketball in Australia by implementing it with the Tigers, a game plan that helped build the club’s dynasty before he passed the torch to Lindsay Gaze in the 1970’s.

His work within Melbourne extended to the entire state of Victoria as he almost single-handedly kept basketball alive during the Second World War by promoting junior participation and organising competitions.

Watson introduced the Melbourne Junior Classic, a club championship for Under-16 and Under-18 men and women which has evolved into the most important national club championship for junior club teams in those age groups while he also brought in the Melbourne Classic for Under-12 and Under-14 boys and girls club teams.

As a coach, he helped lead Victoria in a dominant period through state competition, winning five consecutive Australian Under-14 national titles and his passion never wavered, continuing to coach teams into his 80’s.

At the same time as coaching state teams, Watson was also the secretary for both the Victorian Association and the Amateur Basketball Union of Australia, demonstrating his ability to handle multiple roles and his desire to service the sport in all areas.

On a national scale, Watson was the Australian Boomers’ coach during their first Olympic campaign when they debuted in Melbourne in 1956, winning two of their five pool games.

Watson’s work in the Australian women’s game was just as vital to the growth of the sport as he, upon a request from FIBA, helped bring women into basketball by developing specific tournaments aimed at their participation alongside his wife, Betty.

Wedding Photo

In his service to Basketball Australia, Watson was the business’ secretary and led the development of the Victorian Junior Council, the South East Conference (the forerunner to the NBL) and the Australian Club Championships among many more initiations.

Upon his passing in 2008, Lindsay Gaze put Watson’s achievements in perspective.

“Ken is really the principal person responsible for the development of the game in Australia.”

A more than fitting addition to the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, Watson joins his wife, Betty, who was inducted in 2006 before being named a legend in 2013.

Purchase your tickets for one of Australian basketball's most prestigious nights as Ken Watson is inducted alongside six other athletes, coaches and contributors here.

The 2016 Australian Basketball Hall of Fame Class:

Perry Crosswhite AM
Jean Forster
Liesl Tesch AM
Jenny Whittle

Patrick Hunt AM

Ron Harvey CVO AM
Ken Watson BEM

Michele Timms