SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Christmas came early this year for the Gauchos as Clair Watkins was cleared by the NCAA to play for the team starting this Saturday, the team announced on Friday.
"I am excited to have Clair join our program," UCSB Head Coach Carlene Mitchell said. "Her size is an element we were missing and her versatility as a 6-4 forward will be an easy transition for our uptempo offensive style."
Watkins transferred from Vanderbilt after spending two seasons with the Commodores. She missed the final 15 games of the 2012-13 season after suffering a knee injury during practice in January.
Playing as a junior this season, Watkins was cleared to practice with the team at the beginning of this week. Saturday's game versus Nevada will be her first since January 13th when Vanderbilt hosted Arkansas.
"With her height, we feel her defensive presence and rebounding should impact the outcome of a lot of games," Mitchell said. "She is a veteran player that had played and competed at the highest levels and we look for those qualities to compliment what our three seniors have shown so far."
Watkins talents reach beyond the floor and into the classroom, as she was named to the 2011-12 SEC Academic Honor Roll.
The Charlotte, North Carolina native will be continuing her studies as a graduate student at UCSB's renowned Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. U.S. News & World Report ranked Gevirtz among the top 40 education schools in the country earlier this year.
"Our staff did an amazing job in being creative and getting her enrolled in extension classes," Mitchell said. "Sean Strauch, our compliance director, presented a great case to the NCAA."
Watkins will make her Gaucho debut against Nevada at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are still available in the Ticketing Office, on the phone at 805.893.UCSB (8272), or online here.