No. 1 women’s basketball recruit JuJu Watkins, who grew up 10 miles from the USC campus, signed her National Letter of Intent with the Trojans on Tuesday.

Watkins chose USC over South Carolina and Stanford finalists and is a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball, a California state champion at Sierra Canyon High School and the state’s Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The 17-year-old, who grew up in Watts, is in line to join a roster of USC basketball legends who grew up in the Los Angeles area, including Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie And Tina Thompson.

“I didn’t want to rush this process,” Watkins said. “A lot of people in my class had committed before me, and I was definitely taking my time. But I want to make sure I’m 1,000 percent where I want to go.”

Watkins joins Malia Samuels, a 5-foot-6 guard from Seattle’s Garfield High School, in coach Lindsay Gottlieb’s 2022-23 recruiting class. Samuel is the No. 49 prospect in the 2023 ESPNW 100.

Watkins, a versatile 6-2 guard, averaged 24.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.0 blocks last season to lead Sierra Canyon to the state title. Last summer, she started all seven games as a member of the USA Basketball Women’s U17 National Team and averaged a team-high 13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals.

Watkins is the third top-10 recruit to sign with USC since his national debut in 2007, joining Jordan Adams in 2012 and No. 8. Aaliyah Giles In 2022

USC hasn’t won a national championship since back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. It last won a conference title in 1994 and won the conference tournament in 2014. But the alumni roster is as decorated as any school. Cooper-Dyke, two-time NCAA champion, four-time WNBA champion and former USC coach; Miller, a two-time NCAA champion, three-time Naismith Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leading scorer; Leslie, Naismith Award winner, four-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA champion; And Thompson, the first college player drafted into the WNBA, is the all-time second-leading scorer and four-time WNBA champion.

Watkins is now set to join the Trojans’ legendary LA-to-USC starting five.

Watkins, who grew up in Watts, started playing basketball at age 7, despite her parents wanting her to play like tennis. Venus Williams And Serena Williams. Every day, she trains with her parents, Sari and Robert, in the backyard or at Watts Gym, under the guidance of her great-grandfather Ted Watkins Sr., a civil rights activist in the 1960s.

Before starting high school, Watkins transferred from Windward in Los Angeles to Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California, and joined coach Alicia Komaki’s championship team. At Sierra Canyon, Watkins quickly found success and fame. Although the school boasts famous names like James and Kardashian, Watkins became a celebrity of her own and helped fill the stage for the 2021-22 women’s basketball season.

In the year This October, Watkins, along with fellow Sierra Canyon classmate Bronie James, Iowa point guard, finalized an endorsement deal with Nike. Caitlin ClarkStanford Guardian Haley Jones and senior 2023 guard DJ Wagner.

“Juju has been in the national spotlight since seventh grade,” Komaki said. “When she first came to Sierra Canyon, she knew she had a name with her and she understood that. She understood her responsibility to the game because of who she is. And when she plays in college, she’ll do the same thing. The name on the front is just as important as the name on the back.”

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