Too Easy? JuJu Watkins’ Effortless Transition To College Hoops

WHN | Feb 19, 2024

LOS ANGELES – Sierra Canyon Coach Alicia Komaki knew that JuJu Watkins would excel at the University of Southern California…

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LOS ANGELES – Sierra Canyon Coach Alicia Komaki knew that JuJu Watkins would excel at the University of Southern California on the basketball court. Watkins was the top-ranked recruit in high school and was averaging 27.5 points per game in high school at Sierra Canyon. 

Komaki knew Watkins was ready to thrive… but she didn’t think Watkins would be making THIS much of an impact this quickly. Watkins is currently the second lead scorer in NCAA Division 1 for women and the top-scoring freshman in the country. 

“I think it’s been a little crazy for me how easy it is,” Komaki told WHN. “I think she was also  kind of taken back and a little surprised that it seemed easier than we thought it was gonna be.” 

Since the start of the season, Watkins has become the center and the focal point of Southern California’s offense. She’s averaging 27.5 points per game and has helped USC climb the rankings to one of the top teams in the country. USC’s win against Stanford was not only their top-ranked win of the season, but a miraculous showcase of Watkins’ ability to score against one of the toughest teams in the nation. 

The shocking game led Watkins to a 51-point career high. 

“In honesty, I thought that I wasn’t so sure she could carry her team as much as she’s carrying her team,” said Komaki. 

In conference play, Watkins has made a major impact and Komaki is surprised that USC’s opponents haven’t found a way to shut down the freshman guard. Like Watkins, Komaki has a laundry list of accolades that include several California State Championships, coaching Team USA basketball, and Naismith Coach of the Year. 

“Being a high-level coach at a high-level program that we have here, we are very big on game prep. And we had to coach against Juju for a couple of years before she came to Sierra Canyon. And I thought I would see more efforts to try to stop her.” 

As USC heads into tournament play, teams will need to find ways to limit her scoring ability if they want to cruise past USC. When we asked Komaki whether she thought Watkins would have a challenging time matching up against teams in the SEC or the ACC, Komaki was confident that Watkins would have no problem. 

“I think the Pac-12 is the best conference in the country,” said Komaki. “I think she’s already seen the best in the country outside of South Carolina and some of the teams that are higher  ranked, but she’s just proven she can do it whenever she wants to.” 

JuJu Watkins is definitely the most successful womens’ basketball alumni of Sierra Canyon but she certainly won’t be the last. Komaki has built an incredible program that has dominated basketball in California. She’s been able to recruit several top players who will help continue Watins’ legacy. 

Most notably, Sierra Canyon boasts Jerzy Robinson and MacKenly Randolph who are tearing it up for the Mustangs. Randolph is a senior with offers from Michigan State, Louisville, and Notre Dame. Robinson is a sophomore transfer who is ranked the #1 recruit in her class. 

“Lot of similarities with Juju,” said Komaki in regards to Robinson. “Not in terms of their game necessarily, but work ethic.”

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