November 17, 2022
What Juju Watkins’ commitment means for USC
'There’s no place like home'
Juju Watkins, the top-rated recruit in high school girls’ basketball, officially committed to the USC Trojans and signed her national letter of intent Tuesday, choosing her hometown over Stanford and South Carolina.
17-year-old Watkins, a two-time gold medallist with USA Basketball, is California state’s regnant Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, and defending state champion at Sierra Canyon High School.
“I didn’t want to rush the process,” said Watkins in an interview with ESPN. “A lot of people in my class had already committed before me, and I definitely was taking my time. But I want to make sure it was 1,000 percent where I wanted to go.”
Watkins’ decision to choose USC — a team that hasn’t won a title or tournament since 2014 — comes as a surprise to many. With her achievements and statistics, she was expected to pick women’s college basketball giants like Stanford or South Carolina.
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However, she made it clear during her commitment announcement in front of peers and supporters at Sierra Canyon that she wished to continue her “L.A legacy” and that “there’s no place like home.”
A 6’2 junior guard, Watkins brings experience and talent to USC. She is known for her electric mid-range jumper, solid rebounding skills, and strong defense. She averaged 24.5 points, 3.2 assists, 2.8 steals, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game last season. Her heroics led Sierra Canyon to a 30-2 record. Last month, Nike signed Watkins for an NIL endorsement deal along with her school classmate Bronny James among others.
USC is currently unranked in AP Top 25, but Watkin’s presence might just propel the change the team is seeking. In a press release post the commitment, team coach Lindsay Gottlieb said that she could “talk for days” about Watkins’ skill set.
“But what I am most excited about is Juju the human being is joining the USC family. This is a young woman with transcendent talent, but she is also uniquely motivated,” said Gottlieb. “Juju had the courage to stay home and is driven to bring USC women’s basketball back to prominence. What a monumental day for all of us in the Trojan family.”