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Girls’ basketball player of the year: Sierra Canyon’s Juju Watkins



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Maybe the bun possesses magical powers, sitting calmly atop Juju Watkins’ head like a divine beacon as she steps again for one more jumper.

Diana Taurasi was the primary Southern California star to popularize the type, Watkins’ coach Alicia Komaki remembered, so well-known it spawned fan pages. Watkins has taken it to a brand new stage — hair bundled nearly in a regal headdress as she takes the ground. It’s been her signature type all through a blinding highschool profession, first at L.A. Windward, then Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. The important thing, she proclaims, to each sport.

“Look cute,” Watkins mentioned, “whereas your hair’s not in your face.”

It’s the way in which to go. So she’ll promote the bun to anybody who comes alongside. With a catch.

“My bun, I don’t suppose anyone can actually replicate that precisely,” Watkins mentioned, grinning.

She is one in all one, by way of and thru, and the basketball world has witnessed it in two historic seasons at Sierra Canyon. For the third time since her freshman season at Windward, Watkins has been chosen The Instances’ women’ basketball participant of the 12 months.

It appeared unlikely that the USC commit may take her sport to a better stage after a state-championship run final 12 months, and but she turned a extra environment friendly scorer and improved ballhandler as a senior, averaging 27.3 factors, 13.8 rebounds and three.6 assists to be chosen the Gatorade nationwide women’ basketball participant of the 12 months. She scored 60 factors throughout a Jan. 31 senior-night sport and led Sierra Canyon to a Southern Part Open Division title earlier than the staff fell within the regional playoffs to Etiwanda.

“She is without doubt one of the finest highschool basketball gamers within the nation to ever play this sport,” Komaki mentioned. “I imply, there’s simply no query about it.”

Watkins by no means thought she’d take basketball this far, but she has constructed a platform in contrast to few excessive schoolers in historical past — natural, only a child popping out of Watts, individuals taking discover just because her sport is particular.

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

The scary factor, Komaki mentioned, is that Watkins hasn’t reached her potential.

“Juju’s identify is synonymous with greatness,” Komaki mentioned, “in each side.”