Juju Watkins: Girls State Athlete of Year

Recent Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth grad Juju Watkins has extensive international experience for Team USA, which should be another bonus for her as she gets started playing in college at USC. Photo: USA Basketball.

Recent Sierra Canyon grad (now at USC) gains one last big honor for high school as she’s selected as the 2022-23 State Athlete of the Year. Juju has been compared to many of the state’s all-time greats for basketball and now the national player of the year joins them on another all-time list. She’s also the first girls state athlete of the year from Sierra Canyon.

For a look at all of the other girls from the 2022-23 school year to be selected as a winner from each category plus lists of other top overall athletes, CLICK HERE.


(Associate editor Harold Abend contributed to this post)

Getting selected as the Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year two years in a row already put 2023 Sierra Canyon High grad Judea “Juju” Watkins in some elite company. Now, here’s another one. Watkins is the 2022-23 Girls State Athlete of the Year.

There was some consideration given to others since Watkins and her team at Sierra Canyon was not able to repeat as the CIF Open Division state champion due to a loss in the Southern California championship to Etiwanda. But just like one game didn’t prevent Juju from being Ms. Basketball for the state — and for top national honors as well — it also ended up not stopping her from being the athlete of the year.

Here’s Juju Watkins posing with all of the hardware that she collected after the 2022 CIF Open Division state final. Photo: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports.

It’s a similar situation to 2019 when a dominant, nationally-recognized basketball player — Haley Jones from Archbishop Mitty of San Jose — was named athlete of the year even though her team in her senior year didn’t win a CIF state title.

Watkins, who also has starred for USA Basketball national teams the last several summers, is just the third basketball-only playing athlete to gain the state’s top overall athlete honor. Other than Jones, the only other on that list is the legendary Cheryl Miller of Riverside Poly for 1980-81. There have been other primary basketball players who were athlete of the year with other sports on their resumes, such as Jayne Appel for 2006 (water polo), Candace Wiggins for 2004 (volleyball), Lisa Leslie for 1990 (track and field triple jump) and Terri Mann for 1986 (track and field shot put/discus), but the majority of the all-time winners since the 1920s are from Olympic sports or tennis.

Haley Jones could have been a back-to-back winner of Ms. Basketball, but she wasn’t so Watkins became the first double winner since WNBA all-time great Diana Taurasi from Don Lugo of Chino for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Many of the early winners for Ms. Basketball did it more than once, including Cheryl Miller of Riverside Poly for 1981-82, but since Leslie was at Morningside in 1990 it’s only been Juju and Diana who’ve earned it twice.

Outside of California, Watkins received two major national honors for the 2022-23 season: Gatorade Girls National Player of the Year and Naismith High School Player of the Year. She also was considered the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2023 according to ESPN.

Pouring in a career high 60 points with 21 rebounds in a late January victory vs Notre dame of Sherman Oaks put Watkins into the state record book for single game scoring. On her way to averaging 27.3 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game, she also posted 15 double-doubles.

“I think Juju has never settled for whatever level of success she has achieved. She wants more and that requires work,” said Sierra Canyon head coach Alicia Komaki for Watkins’ Ms. Basketball feature. “Juju has earned every award that has come her way. She is one of the most competitive athletes I’ve ever come across and that trait will serve her well at the next level.”

In 2021, as a sophomore Watkins averaged 20 points a game and was the MVP as a member of the USA U16 National Team that won the Gold Medal at the FIBA U16 America’s Cup. In 2022, Juju was named the MVP at the U17 World Cup after helping lead the USA National Team to the Gold Medal. Recently Watkins was a member of the Gold Medal winning 2023 USA Women’s Nike Hoop Summit Team.

“I would like to be remembered as a good player and person who impacted people on and off the court. Not simply a basketball player,” Watkins told us last April. “It means everything to me that I’m able to play a sport I love while representing something larger than myself. My family and community is a big reason why I play this game.”

We’re just glad we’ll be able to continue to watch Juju play her game in Los Angeles for the next few seasons.


(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

Dalia Frias of Mira Costa poses after winning the girls two mile at Brooks PR Invitational. Photo: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport.

2022-23 – Juju Watkins, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (basketball)
2021-22 – Dalia Frias, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (track, cross country)
2020-21 – Paige Sommers, Westlake Village Westlake (track, pole vault)
2019-20 – Sarah Willis, Norco (basketball, softball)
2018-19 – Haley Jones, San Jose Archbishop Mitty (basketball)
2017-18 – Gracie Figueroa, Selma (wrestling)
2016-17 – Tara Davis, Agoura Hills Agoura (track)
2015-16 – Elena Bruckner, San Jose Valley Christian (track, volleyball)
2014-15 – Abbey Weitzeil, Saugus (swimming)
2013-14 – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel (gymnastics)
2012-13 – Chelsea Chenault, Concord Carondelet (swimming)
2011-12 – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel (gymnastics)
2010-11 – Maggie Steffens, Danville Monte Vista (water polo)
2009-10 – Ashton Purvis, Oakland St. Elizabeth (track)
2008-09 – Jordan Hasay, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (track)
2007-08 – Jordan Hasay, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (track) Jr.
2006-07 – Alix Klineman, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (volleyball)
2005-06 – Jayne Appel, Concord Carondelet (water polo, basketball)
2004-05 – Jessica Hardy, Long Beach Wilson (swimming)
2003-04 – Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day (volleyball, basketball)
2002-03 – Alyson Felix, North Hills L.A. Baptist (track)
2001-02 – Julia Pitts, Torrance North (volleyball, basketball, track)
2000-01 – Lashinda Demus, Long Beach Wilson (track)
1999-00 – Monique Henderson, San Diego Morse (track) Jr.
1998-99 – Rometra Craig, San Jose Mitty (basketball, tae kwon do, track) Jr.
1997-98 – Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica (volleyball, soccer, baseball)
1996-97 – Tayyiba Haneef, Laguna Hills (volleyball, basketball, track)
1995-96 – Kerri Walsh, San Jose Mitty (volleyball, basketball)
1994-95 – Marcy Crouch, Huntington Beach Marina (soccer, softball)
1993-94 – Suzy Powell, Modesto Downey (basketball, track)
1992-93 – Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (basketball, track)
1991-92 – Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (basketball, track) Jr.
1990-91 – Marion Jones, Oxnard Rio Mesa (basketball, track) Soph.
1989-90 – Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside (basketball, track)
1988-89 – Janet Evans, Placentia El Dorado (swimming)
1987-88 – Janet Evans, Placentia El Dorado (swimming) Jr.
1986-87 – Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia (softball)
1985-86 – Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma (basketball, track)
1984-85 – Elaina Oden, Irvine (volleyball, track)
1983-84 – Wendy Brown, Woodside (basketball, track)
1982-83 – Wendy Wyland, Mission Viejo (diving)
1981-82 – Denean Howard, Granada Hills Kennedy (track)
1980-81 – Cheryl Miller, Riverside Polytechnic (basketball)
1979-80 – Sherri Howard, Granada Hills Kennedy (track)
1978-79 – Cynthia Woodhead, Riverside Polytechnic (swimming)
1977-78 – Tracy Austin, Rolling Hills (tennis)
1976-77 – Linda Fratianne, Van Nuys Valley Professional (figure skating)
1975-76 – Jill Sterkel, Hacienda Heights Wilson (swimming)
1974-75 – Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian (basketball, softball)
1973-74 – Mary Decker, Orange (track)
1972-73 – Keena Rothhammer, Santa Clara (swimming)
1971-72 – Mable Fergerson, Pomona Ganesha (track)
1970-71 – Laura Baugh, Long Beach Wilson (golf)
1969-70 – Cathy Rigby, Los Alamitos (gymnastics)
1968-69 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1967-68 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1966-67 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1965-66 – Charlotte Cooke, Compton (track)
1964-65 – Peggy Fleming, Pasadena (figure skating)
1963-64 – Sharon Stouder, Glendora (swimming)
1962-63 – Donna de Varona, Santa Clara (swimming)
1961-62 – Carolyn House, Los Angeles Marshall (swimming)
1960-61 – Billie Jean King, Long Beach Poly (tennis)*
1959-60 – Chris von Saltza, Los Gatos (swimming)
1958-59 – Karen Hantze, San Diego Mission Bay (tennis)
1957-58 – Sylvia Ruuska, Berkeley (swimming)
1956-57 – Barbara Ann Roles, Arcadia (figure skating)
1955-56 – Mimi Arnold, Redwood City Sequoia (tennis)
1954-55 – Mimi Arnold, Redwood City Sequoia (tennis)
1953-54 – Carol Tait, Atherton Menlo-Atherton (swimming)
1952-53 – Barbara Stark, Lafayette Acalanes (swimming)
1951-52 – Paula Jean Myers, Covina (diving)
1950-51 – Maureen Connolly, San Diego Cathedral (tennis)
1949-50 – Maureen Connolly, San Diego Cathedral (tennis)
1948-49 – Marlene Bauer, L.A. unknown (golf)
1947-48 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1946-47 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1945-46 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1944-45 – Nancy Chaffee, Ventura (tennis)
1943-44 – Jean Doyle, San Diego Point Loma (tennis)
1942-43 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1941-42 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1940-41 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1939-40 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1938-39 – Esther Williams, L.A. Washington (swimming)
1937-38 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1936-37 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1935-36 – Peggy Graham, Beverly Hills (golf)
1934-35 – Margaret Osborne, S.F. Commerce (tennis)
1933-34 – Florence Chadwick, San Diego Hoover (rough water swimming)
1932-33 – Dorothy Poynton, L.A. Fairfax (diving)
1931-32 – Evelyn Furtsch, Tustin (track)
1930-31 – Alice Marble, S.F. Polytechnic (tennis)
1929-30 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1928-29 – Gloria Russell, Berkeley (track)
1927-28 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1926-27 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1925-26 – Helen Jacobs, Berkeley Miss Anna Head’s School (tennis)
1924-25 – Eleanor Garatti, San Rafael (swimming)
1923-24 – Helen Jacobs, Berkeley (tennis)
1922-23 – Helen Wills, Berkeley Miss Anna Head’s School (tennis)
1921-22 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
1920-21 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
1919-20 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
*Known as Billie Jean Moffitt while in high school.

Note: All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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