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

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

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

“Look cute,” Watkins stated, “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 stated, grinning.

She is considered one of 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 Occasions’ ladies’ basketball participant of the 12 months.

It appeared unlikely that the USC commit might take her sport to a better degree after a state-championship run final 12 months, and but she grew to become 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 ladies’ 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 group fell within the regional playoffs to Etiwanda.

“She is among the greatest highschool basketball gamers within the nation to ever play this sport,” Komaki stated. “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, folks taking discover just because her sport is particular.

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

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

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