USC’s JuJu Watkins is poised to step in as the next big star of women’s college basketball

by Joshua Brown
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Basketball Sensation

USC’s JuJu Watkins emerges as the potential next superstar in women’s college basketball

In the world of women’s college basketball, Caitlin Clark currently holds the title of Big Big News national player of the year, but as she approaches what might be her final season at Iowa, the stage is set for a new rising star. While the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially extend the college careers of players like Clark and Angel Reese of the national champion LSU, one name that stands out in this transition is JuJu Watkins.

Hailing from Southern California, JuJu Watkins is a freshman guard whose scoring prowess has taken the nation by storm. She currently ranks as the second-leading scorer in the country, averaging an impressive 26.8 points per game, with only Caitlin Clark ahead of her at 30.5 points per game. Watkins has made a significant impact on her team, earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors for five consecutive weeks and breaking a school record previously held by the legendary Lisa Leslie for the most 30-point games by a freshman, achieving this feat in just her first seven games.

Under Watkins’ leadership, the Trojans have soared to a No. 6 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll, boasting an unbeaten record of 10-0. However, it’s worth noting that there was a recent game where Watkins was sidelined due to health concerns, although the details surrounding her absence remain undisclosed by USC.

Despite facing challenges in one of her recent games, where she wasn’t feeling her best, Watkins displayed incredible resilience, leaving the court twice during the game yet still managing to finish with an impressive stat line of 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists.

The Trojans’ upcoming game against No. 2 UCLA in their Pac-12 opener is generating significant excitement, with both teams entering the matchup undefeated at 11-0. The game is expected to draw a rare sellout crowd for women’s basketball in Los Angeles, and it has garnered the attention of numerous celebrities, including LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Candace Parker, 2 Chainz, Vanessa Bryant, and actor Storm Reid, who is also a fellow USC student.

Watkins’ presence has not only elevated the Trojans’ performance but has also reinvigorated their fan base. The team saw its largest crowd since 2010 at their home opener, with 4,712 enthusiastic supporters in attendance.

Watkins’ impact extends beyond the court as well. USC’s coach, Lindsay Gottlieb, has even contemplated seeking advice from Iowa coach Lisa Bluder on how to manage the rising stardom of their respective players, given the unprecedented attention surrounding Watkins.

Despite the spotlight and the high expectations that have followed her for years, JuJu Watkins maintains a humble demeanor, stating, “I didn’t really have that many expectations for myself, just to come in and contribute as much as I can to the team.”

Hailing from the Watts section of South Los Angeles, Watkins’ decision to attend USC has brought her closer to her community, where she enjoys unwavering support. The local fans proudly wear her No. 12 jersey and passionately cheer for her every move on the court.

Watkins recognizes the significance of her role within her community, and Coach Gottlieb acknowledges her not only as an exceptional player but also as an outstanding individual. Watkins’ commitment to making a positive impact is evident as she engages with fans, from high-fiving young girls to signing jerseys and taking photos with supporters of all ages and backgrounds.

Cheryl Miller, a Hall of Famer who led USC to back-to-back national championships in 1983 and ’84, sees immense potential in Watkins, both as a player and as a person. Miller praises her poise, skill, and temperament, emphasizing that the game doesn’t overwhelm her; she is comfortable in her own skin.

JuJu Watkins’ basketball journey has been nothing short of remarkable, from her high school achievements to her commitment to USC. Despite the challenges of transitioning to college and the immense pressure, she remains dedicated to her craft and continues to work hard to elevate her game.

USC is not just a team but a closely-knit group of players who share a genuine bond. Watkins sets the standard with her unwavering commitment, motivating her teammates to push themselves to their limits. Her presence on and off the court radiates excitement and joy among her fellow players.

Recognizing the media’s growing interest in Watkins, USC brought in a media consultant to prepare the players for the constant inquiries about her. The consultant’s feedback highlighted the team’s genuine admiration for JuJu Watkins, both as a person and as a teammate.

As she stands at 6 feet 2 inches tall, Watkins is easily identifiable on the court, often styling her hair in a high bun. Beyond her basketball career, she aspires to have her own clothing line in the future. However, for now, her focus remains on conquering college basketball and pursuing her dreams of representing her country in the Olympics and the professional ranks.

In summary, JuJu Watkins is not only a rising star in women’s college basketball but also a remarkable individual who has captured the hearts of fans, teammates, and even celebrities. Her journey from the Watts neighborhood to USC is a testament to her talent, hard work, and commitment to making a positive impact both on and off the court. As she continues to shine, the future looks incredibly bright for JuJu Watkins.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Basketball Sensation

Who is JuJu Watkins?

JuJu Watkins is a freshman guard for the University of Southern California (USC) women’s basketball team. She has gained national attention for her exceptional scoring abilities and impact on and off the court.

What are JuJu Watkins’ notable achievements?

JuJu Watkins is currently the second-leading scorer in the nation among women’s college basketball players, with an impressive average of 26.8 points per game. She has also earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors multiple times and set a record for the most 30-point games by a freshman in USC’s history.

How has JuJu Watkins influenced her community?

Hailing from the Watts section of South Los Angeles, JuJu Watkins has become a local hero. She actively engages with her community, and her presence has led to increased attendance at USC’s home games. She is known for her commitment to making a positive impact on and off the court.

What is the significance of USC’s media consultant?

USC brought in a media consultant to prepare the players, especially JuJu Watkins, for the increased media attention surrounding her. The consultant’s feedback highlighted the team’s genuine admiration for JuJu Watkins, both as a person and as a teammate.

What are JuJu Watkins’ aspirations beyond college basketball?

While currently focused on her college basketball career at USC, JuJu Watkins aspires to represent her country in the Olympics and pursue a professional basketball career in the future. She also has dreams of starting her own clothing line.

How does JuJu Watkins handle the pressure and expectations?

Despite the immense pressure and expectations that come with her rising stardom, JuJu Watkins maintains a humble demeanor and a strong work ethic. She credits her success to hard work and the support of her family and community.

How has JuJu Watkins impacted USC’s women’s basketball program?

JuJu Watkins has not only elevated the performance of the USC women’s basketball team but also brought renewed excitement to the fan base. Her leadership and dedication have set a high standard for her teammates, motivating them to push themselves to excel.

Who are some of the notable celebrities who have shown interest in JuJu Watkins?

Prominent celebrities such as LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Candace Parker, 2 Chainz, Vanessa Bryant, and actor Storm Reid have been among the notable figures who have come out to watch JuJu Watkins play. Her star power extends beyond the basketball court.

What sets JuJu Watkins apart as a player?

JuJu Watkins is known for her exceptional scoring ability, but she also excels in other aspects of the game, such as rebounding and passing. Her poise, versatility, and ability to remain composed under pressure make her a standout player.

How did JuJu Watkins choose USC over other options?

Despite being the No. 1 recruit in the national class of 2023, JuJu Watkins made the choice to attend USC, a program that was rebuilding under Coach Lindsay Gottlieb. She expressed that it was one of the best decisions of her life and credits the hard work of her teammates and coach for her success at USC.

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