Year in review

The first half of 2019’s top stories in Little Elm athletics

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Ryan Watts

Little Elm’s Ryan Watts picked up a ton of recruiting steam this past year before ultimately signing with Ohio State.

After a highly successful calendar year in the world of Little Elm sports in 2018, the bar was set even higher in 2019.

Between the softball team reaching new heights in the postseason and R.J. Hampton making headlines all offseason long, 2019 will be a year that is hard to forget.

Let’s take a look back on the year that was in Little Elm athletics, starting with the first half of that lineup.

10. The rise of Ryan Watts

After Little Elm’s Ryan Watts did not receive a single college offer during his junior campaign, many high-level programs came calling soon after some stellar play at various offseason camps.

In the month of January alone, the Ohio State signee reeled in a whopping 14 offers, as that number more than doubled before his senior year even began.

In April, Watts verbally committed to Oklahoma, where he remained committed until October when he announced a new verbal commitment to Ohio State.

Then just last week, the future Buckeye then made things official on Signing Day, as he plans to join the program the first week of January.

9. Hampton reclassifies

Just weeks after former Little Elm head coach Rusty Segler was reassigned from the program, five-star recruit RJ Hampton announced via Twitter that he would be forgoing his senior season and reclassify to graduate early.

“RJ is the most complete player I have ever coached,” Segler said. “He has nothing left to prove, and this is a great move for him. I’m going to enjoy watching his career go and getting to say ‘Hey, I know that guy’ someday.”

The move meant that Hampton would then be college-eligible, although, he eventually chose a completely different route a month later.

Prior to reclassifying, Hampton was ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2020, according to ESPN, following a dominant junior campaign with 32 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game.

8. Little Elm bumps up to 6A

Earlier this month, the UIL released the conference cutoff numbers and preliminary enrollment figures for the 2020-22 reclassification and realignment. The figures provide the range of enrollment for each of the six classifications, including divisional cutoffs for football.

Perhaps, making the biggest splash, at least in the area, was the announcement that Little Elm will be joining Class 6A for the next two years.

This raised many questions on where the Lobos will be placed following the realignment period in February, and only time will tell on which direction Little Elm will go after leaving 5A.

7. Tipton boots game winner

With the score deadlocked at 24-24 against Frisco Liberty as time expired in the fourth quarter, Little Elm kicker Tyler Tipton connected on a 48-yard field goal to send the Lobos past the Redhawks.

The game-winning boot signified how Tipton’s senior year on the gridiron went, as he had never played a snap of football prior to this summer.

In fact, Tipton, a former soccer and tennis player, decided on a whim to give kicking a shot and excelled at various college camps throughout the summer.

Those fine showings, along with a stellar senior campaign, landed Tipton an offer with Tulsa, where he officially signed to alongside Watts last week.

6. Lady Lobos soccer win district

The Lady Lobos are fresh off of one of their best seasons in program history after they finished with an impressive 10-1-1 district record and 20 wins overall under second-year head coach Manuel Cordova.

Although Little Elm’s season ended earlier than it had hoped, with a second-round playoff exit at the hands of Burleson Centennial in overtime, the future remains bright for the Lady Lobos.

The program returns prolific goal scorer Landri Townsend, who is poised for a monster senior year after pouring in over 20 goals a year ago.

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