Girls’ basketball participant of the 12 months: 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 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 degree — hair bundled virtually in a regal headdress as she takes the ground. It’s been her signature type all through a stunning highschool profession, first at L.A. Windward, then Chatsworth Sierra Canyon. The important thing, she proclaims, to each recreation.

“Look cute,” Watkins stated, “while your hair’s not in your face.”

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

“My bun, I don’t think anybody can really replicate that exactly,” Watkins stated, grinning.

She is considered one of one, by 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 might take her recreation to a better degree 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 recreation and led Sierra Canyon to a Southern Part Open Division title earlier than the crew fell within the regional playoffs to Etiwanda.

“She is one of the best high school basketball players in the country to ever play this game,” Komaki stated. “I mean, there’s just no question 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 recreation is particular.

“It was just really exciting to see that that can happen to a female athlete,” Komaki stated. “That’s what triggered in my mind — wow, this is happening to a female athlete. Period.”

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

“Juju’s name is synonymous with greatness,” Komaki stated, “in every aspect.”