USC basketball recruit Juju Watkins named national Player of the Year

Juju Watkins led Sierra Canyon to a 31-1 record and averaged 27.5 points per game. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Juju Watkins is the Gatorade National Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.

The USC commit, who also won this year’s Naismith High School Player of the Year award, received with the Gatorade award Monday during a photoshoot. WNBA star Candace Parker presented the Sierra Canyon high school senior with the award.

“This is one of the most prestigious awards you can get,” Watkins told The Athletic. “Just to get it and end it off the right way is really special for me. And it just gives me a lot of motivation going into next year at USC.”

As a senior, Watkins led her California high school to a 31-1 record, averaging 27.5 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. Last summer, she earned MVP while helping the U-17 U.S. women’s national team to a FIBA World Cup championship.

“Although we already had a legacy and winning culture at Sierra Canyon, Juju took this program to a different level,” Sierra Canyon coach Alicia Komaki told ESPN. “She propelled us to win at the absolute highest level of competition. She took everyone’s best shot and delivered night after night.

“She made our program better… She made her teammates better. She made me a better coach. I truly believe she is one of the best to ever play high school basketball and her legacy will not just be about statistics and championships but how she handled being a superstar.”

As Watkins begins her college career next season with the Trojans, she has her sights set on one thing.

“I hope to add some hardware, some championships,” she said. “Just bringing USC back to what it was.”

USC won NCAA women’s basketball titles in 1983 and 1984 but has made just four March Madness appearances since 2000, including this year.

“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,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said when Watkins announced her commitment to the Trojans in November.