Judea “Juju” Watkins, the No. 1 overall women’s basketball recruit in the 2023 class according to ESPNW, signed a national letter of intent on Tuesday to play at USC next season.
Watkins, who currently attends Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, Calif., chose the Trojans over Stanford and South Carolina, schools that won national championships in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
“What I am most excited about is that Juju the human being is joining the USC family,” USC head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said in a press release. “She is about things bigger than herself: her family, her team, her community, her city. Juju had the courage to stay home and is driven to bring USC women’s basketball back to prominence.”
Gottlieb also praised Watkins’ talent on the floor, describing her extraordinary abilities to shoot, pass, rebound and defend. Watkins already has a laundry list of accomplishments to back it up, including two gold medals with USA Basketball, a state championship with Sierra Canyon, Gatorade California Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year award and MaxPreps National Player of the Year award last season.
The 6-foot-1 guard grew up in Watts, just 10 miles from USC, and cited her family as a primary reason for staying home to play for the Trojans. She has the potential to join some elite company of USC women’s basketball legends that grew up in Los Angeles, including Lisa Leslie, Cheryl Miller and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke — the last two led the Trojans to both of their national championships in 1983 and 1984.
“Juju is the best and most decorated player of her class both in the country and internationally,” Gottlieb said. “What a monumental day for all of us in the Trojan Family.”
Watkins will join guard Malia Samuels, ESPNW’s No. 49 overall recruit in 2023, in USC’s incoming freshman class. Gottlieb has now secured two top-10 recruits with the Trojans, after No. 8 overall recruit point guard Aaliyah Gayles joined the program this season.
Pairing Watkins with sophomore guard Rayah Marshall, who was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team last season, could place Gottlieb’s squad among the best in the nation in the coming years.