SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s fab four are JuJu Watkins from Windward of L.A. (left) and Justin Stanziano of Thousand Oaks. Photos: Erik Boal & @TOHSBasketball / Twitter.com.


There were a couple of honorees this week who were slam dunks and then a couple of others that took a lot of digging, but we came up with four very deserving recipients, including a freshman whose name you might want to remember. This week’s winners are from Thousand Oaks, Rocklin, Los Angeles and Oakhurst.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. This is the second week for basketball honorees. This feature too a break for the Holidays and now returns after the conclusion of major tournaments just before New Year’s day. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email markjtennis@gmail.com.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Boys Basketball Player of the Week

Justin Stanziano (Thousand Oaks) Sr.

We head to the southeastern portion of Ventura County to a school most famous for producing one of the greatest high school athletes in track and field star Marion Jones, but this is about basketball and this week’s Southern California Player of the Week Justin Stanziano just doesn’t stand tall at 6-foot-5, he can put the ball in the basket and clean some glass as well. The result is we land in Ventura County for the SoCal honoree.

Last week, in a 57-49 overtime victory against Marmonte League rival and neighboring Newbury Park, Stanziano stood up to the task with a huge double-double 31 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lancers to a win that gets them over .500 on the season.

Despite the team being at 11-10 at this stage of the season, Stanziano has been mentioned by SoCal prep writer Jack Pollon as being second to Clark Slajchert of Oak Park in early consensus for Ventura County Player of Year.

The senior wing is averaging 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game with five games of 30-plus points and high of 56 in an early season win over Calvary Baptist of La Verne. The double-double was his 10th of the season.


Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Boys Basketball Player of the Week

Ryan King (Whitney, Rocklin) Sr.

We mentioned in the intro that we had to dig deep for some selections, and with no disrespect to our Northern California Boys Player of the Week, but part of his being honored has to do with his overall body of work this season, and what the Wildcats’ co-captain’s contributions have meant to a team that is 17-1 and on the bubble of the just released state rankings. For that reason King is crowned as this week’s award winner.

Last week was like another day at the office for the 6-foot-5 forward and the Wildcats’ leading scorer and rebounder after he dropped in 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds with two blocks and an assist in a 64-51 Sierra Foothill League victory over Del Oro of Loomis in the league opener.

Included in Ryan’s resume for the season is being selected MVP of two tournaments, the Carmel Invitational and the Surf and Slam in San Diego where Whitney beat Palos Verdes of Palos Verdes Estates in the championship with King going for 19 points and nine rebounds.

So far this season, King is averaging 15.0 points per game, 9.6 rebounds and leads the Wildcats in blocks as well at 1.6 per games. The double-double against Del Oro was his eighth this season.

Jenna Kurz (32) is shown as part of a team photo from earlier this season. Photo: SierraStar.com.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Girls Basketball Player of the Week

Jenna Kurz (Yosemite, Oakhurst) Jr.

With the name of the school being Yosemite, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the town of Oakhurst must be close to Yosemite National Park, and in fact it’s about 30 miles south of Yosemite Valley where we land and choose our NorCal Girls Player of the Week from a school known for having some great shooters, and Kurz is the latest Badger to fill that role.

Last week, Kurz put the hurt on Redwood of Visalia and then Sierra of Tollhouse. Against Redwood, she went for a season-high 33 points and was 6-of-9 on three-pointers in a 63-42 victory. She also had four steals and three assists.

In her next game, the 5-foot-10 junior forward had 25 points with four rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 70-44 victory over Sierra in the North Sequoia League opener for both teams.

So far this season for the 13-5 Badgers, Kurz is averaging 23.2 points, 3.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, and she’s shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc with 41 made treys.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Girls Basketball Player of the Week

JuJu Watkins (Windward, Los Angeles) Fr.

It’s not often that we honor a freshman and it’s not because we look past them for weekly honors, it’s because not many of them perform at a high level like our Southern California Girls Player of the week does.

We didn’t have to look for Watkins because she was nominated by Cal-Hi Sports contributor and longtime Southern California prep sports writer Erik Boal.

Prior to the season, every analyst queried agreed that Watkins would be among the top freshmen in the state. While Juju may not snag the State Freshman of the Year award that former Windward star and current UCLA freshman Charisma Osborne won, Juju is making her own name for herself, and on a team with only two seniors, including Gonzaga-bound McKayla Williams, she is a big reason the Wildcats are 14-3 and No. 8 in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings.

At 6-foot-1 and with good size to go with speed and the ability to finish with both hands, Watkins is a different type of player than Osborne, or Jordin Canada, another former Wildcats and UCLA star and current WNBA Seattle Storm standout. They were more traditional guards while Watkins can play anywhere on the court.

Over the past four games, Juju was due to make the LA spotlight, and she broke out in a big way. In a 69-56 win over host and state No. 20 Cathedral Catholic of San Diego, Watkins went for a double-double 31 points and 12 rebounds, including 20 points in the first half. Prior to that, and in a 76-35 trouncing of an Anaheim Fairmont Prep that’s on the bubble in the rankings, Juju had a career high 36 points with six rebounds. Last Tuesday against nearby Crossroads of Santa Monica, she had 26 points and nine rebounds in a 75-30 victory, and finally two weeks ago in a 92-47 shellacking of a Torrance West team that has given a lot of other ranked teams trouble and is also on the bubble, Watkins dropped in 31 points.

According to Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard her freshman sensation is currently averaging 22 points and nine rebounds a game against top-notch competition.

Watkins is by no means a one-girl team, and that’s why we’re sure she’d like to give a shout-out to her senior teammate Williams and junior Michelle Duchemin. They both had double-doubles against Cathedral Catholic with 16 points and 12 rebounds and 10 points and 12 rebounds, respectively.

The bottom line here, however, is it sounds like the Juju Watkins story is just starting to unfold.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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