Ladies’s Basketball Participant of the 12 months: Sierra Canyon’s Juju Watkins, once more

Maybe the bow tie possesses magical powers, sitting quietly on Juju Watkins’ head like a divine beacon as she steps again for an additional jumper.

Diana Taurasi was the primary Southern California star to popularize the type, recalled Watkins’ coach Alicia Komaki, so well-known that it spawned fan pages. Watkins has taken it to a brand new stage: hair pulled again nearly right into a regal headdress as he speaks. It’s been his trademark type all through a stunning highschool profession, first at LA Windward, then at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. The important thing, he proclaims himself, to each recreation.

“Look cute,” Watkins mentioned, “so long as your hair isn’t in your face.”

It’s the strategy to go. So he’ll promote the bun to anybody who comes by. With a catch.

“My bun, I don’t suppose anybody can precisely replicate that,” Watkins mentioned, smiling.

She’s certainly one of a form, by means of and thru, and the basketball world has witnessed that in two historic seasons at Sierra Canyon. For the third time since her freshman yr at Windward, Watkins has been chosen as The Instances Ladies’s Basketball Participant of the 12 months.

It appeared unlikely that USC’s dedication may take her recreation to the next stage after a state championship run final yr, and but she grew to become a extra environment friendly scorer and improved ball dealing with in her final recreation. yr, averaging 27.3 factors, 13.8 rebounds and three.6 assists to be named Gatorade’s Nationwide Ladies’s Basketball Participant of the 12 months. She scored 60 factors throughout a January 31 evening recreation and led Sierra Canyon to a Southern Part Open Division title earlier than the staff fell within the regional playoffs to Etiwanda.

“She is among the finest highschool basketball gamers within the nation to ever play this recreation,” Komaki mentioned. “I imply, there’s simply no query about it.”

Watkins by no means thought she would take basketball this far, but she has constructed a special platform than few excessive schoolers in historical past: natural, only a woman popping out of Watts, individuals taking discover just because her recreation is particular. .

“It was actually thrilling to see that that may occur to a feminine athlete,” Komaki mentioned. “That’s what went off in my thoughts: wow, that is occurring to an athlete. Interval.”

The scary factor, Komaki mentioned, is that Watkins hasn’t lived as much as his potential.

“The title Juju is synonymous with greatness,” Komaki mentioned, “in all respects.”