Alicia Komaki, the Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High girls’ basketball coach, had an observation on how her talented new transfer student, Juju Watkins, could improve. She wanted her to recover more because it would increase her chances of scoring on the open court at quick breaks.
The final game of the 2021-22 season saw Komaki’s vision on the biggest stage – the Open Division state championship game at the Golden 1 Center. Watkins had 19 rebounds — two shy of an Open Division record — and finished with 23 points in a win over San Jose Archbishop Mitty.
It was another historic season for the 6-foot-2 Watkins, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 women’s basketball player as of the Class of 2023. She averaged 24.8 points and 10.3 rebounds to lift the Trailblazers to a 30–2 record. Watkins was voted Basketball Player of the Year by The Times. She received the same award as a freshman.
Watkins made the move from LA Windward to Sierra Canyon this season and the transition has been smoother than anyone could have imagined. Her competitiveness suited Komaki perfectly, and she was able to help lead a group of young players to steady improvements throughout the season.
Watkins improved her own game, displaying point guard skills that transcended her size and athleticism to score on the inside. It led to that moment in Sacramento that she had wanted to create for years.
“I had this goal of being young and having a dream to come here and play for a state championship,” she said. “To see that come true is a dream come true.”
Watkins won a gold medal for US basketball last summer and was named Gatorade State Player of the Year. She was the first high school star to sign with Klutch Sports for NIL representation.
She has yet to decide on college, but if she could play in the WNBA next year, Komaki said, “She would if she could.”
She will be back for her final year in Sierra Canyon, where all five starters will return.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/highschool/story/2022-03-20/juju-watkins-sierra-canyon-girls-basketball-player-of-the-year Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Sierra Canyon’s Juju Watkins