Girls Basketball Player of the Year: JuJu Watkins of Sierra Canyon

Perhaps the jujube that sits calmly like a celestial beacon above JuJu Watkins’ head has magical powers as she retreats for another jumper.

Diana Taurasi was the first Southern California star to popularize the style, recalled Watkins’ coach Alicia Komaki, it was so famous fan pages, Watkins has taken it to a whole new level—hair tied back in an almost regal headdress as soon as she takes the floor. This has been his signature style during an illustrious high school career, first at LA Windward, then at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. The key, she declares, is to every game.

“Look beautiful,” Watkins said, “while your hair isn’t in your face.”

This is the way to go. So she will preach the forest to anyone who comes with her. with a catch.

“My bun, I don’t think anyone can really replicate it exactly,” Watkins said with a smile.

He is one of them, totally, and the basketball world has seen it through two historic seasons in Sierra Canyon. For the third time since her freshman season at Windward, Watkins was named The Times’ Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.

It didn’t seem like a USC commitment could take her game to a higher level after her state-championship run last year, and yet she became a more efficient scorer and a better ballhandler as a senior, averaging 27.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Selected as Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She scored 60 points during a January 31 senior-night game to lead Sierra Canyon to the Southern Section Open Division title before the team lost to Ativanda in the regional playoffs.

“He’s one of the best high school basketball players in the country to ever play the game,” Komaki said. “I mean, there’s no question about it.”

Watkins never thought she’d take basketball this far, yet she’s built a platform unlike some high schoolers in history — organic, just a kid coming out of Watkins, people taking notice just because of her play. It is special.

“It was really exciting to see that this could happen to a female athlete,” Komaki said. “It came to my mind – wow, this is happening to a female athlete. Period.”

The scary thing, Komaki said, is that Watkins hasn’t lived up to its potential.

“Juju’s name is synonymous with greatness,” said Komaki, “in every aspect.”

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