Sierra Canyon’s Juju Watkins, ESPN’s top 2023 recruit, joins a group of living legends in receiving the honor.
Sierra Canyon superstar Juju Watkins is Gatorade‘s National Girls Basketball Player Of The Year, the company announced on Monday.
NCAA and WNBA legend Candace Parker, a two-time Gatorade award winner herself, surprised Watkins with the news while teammates, friends, and family showed up with the trophy at her school. The award, now in its 38th year, celebrates excellence on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.
“Juju’s dedication on and off the field of play has earned her a spot within the prestigious Gatorade Player of the Year family, a distinction shared by sports icons such as Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne and countless community leaders,” said Michael Del Pozzo, Gatorade Portfolio’s president and general manager. “We can’t wait to see the impact she makes on and off the court going forward.”
Watkins, last year’s Gatorade California player of the year, led Sierra Canyon to a 31-1 record in 2022-23 and the statewide CIF Open Division tournament semifinals. She averaged 27.5 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. The McDonald’s All-American is also ESPN’s top-ranked 2023 recruit and is committed to USC with a 3.72 GPA. She won MVP of the U17 FIBA World Cup last summer, leading Team USA to the championship.
Watkins, who’s represented by Klutch Sports for NIL, has also volunteered in the Los Angeles area on behalf of Hands for Hope, Shoes for Souls, and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, in addition to working toy drives, a food bank, and youth basketball camps. She joins an illustrious group of previous Gatorade award winners including Parker, Paige Bueckers, Azzi Fudd, Breanna Stewart, Skylar Diggins, Nneka Ogwumike, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, and Lisa Leslie.
“Juju truly separated herself from her peers as an upperclassmen — her game continually evolved,” Chris Menning, a national evaluator for Blue Star Basketball and U.S. Junior Nationals, said. “A power guard who attacks the court with strength and vision, she still makes plays even when shots aren’t falling. Her competitiveness and character make her a welcome addition to the legacy of the Gatorade National Player of the Year.”
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