Can JuJu Watkins Snatch Caitlin Clark’s NPOY Status In USC Star’s Sensational Freshman Year?

Published 12/04/2023, 6:05 AM EST

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The University of Southern California Trojans are going on a 7-0 unbeaten run in the current NCAA women’s basketball tournament and their freshman JuJu Watkins is at the center of their accomplishment.

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Watkins has proved her mettle only in her first season so much so that she is now considered a contender to the Iowa Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark. A lot of critics opine that Watkins might eclipse Clark and win all the major national player of the year awards. But can Watkins really do it? A detailed look at her gameplay might help.

University of Southern California Trojans vs Ohio State Buckeyes 83-74

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The University of Southern California Trojans played their season opener against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the T-Mobile Arena, defeating them by a decent margin of 83-74. The game went through extremes as the Trojans ousted the Buckeyes by a huge margin of 31-10 in the second quarter whereas the Buckeyes did the same by 30-10 in the third quarter.

The Trojans freshman JuJu Watkins stood out, potting a game-high 32 points with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. She had a respectable 11-for-18 field goal and a 9-for-10 free throw tally. This game marked Watkins entry on the big stage and she came to everyone’s notice for doing the unthinkable in her debut game.

University of Southern California Trojans vs Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 67-51

The Trojans outfoxed the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles by a respectable margin of 67-51 in their second game of the current NCAA season. Watkins was included in the starting five and scored a team-high 18 points tying with their forward Rayah Marshall.

She had an average 8-for-19 field goals along with a 25% free throw percentage. Watkins performed decently well as her team cruised to victory.

University of Southern California Trojans vs Le Moyne 93-42

The Lindsay Gottlieb-team completely clobbered up the Le Moyne in their third game by a humongous margin of 93-42. Watkins stood up for her team, smoking a game-high 35 points with 9 rebounds and 6 steals.

An interesting fact to note in this game was that Watkins alone had come quite close to the Le Moyne’s score. Additionally, she demonstrated both her offensive and defensive skills in this match. The 35 points she dropped were not only a game-high but also the career best for her.

University of Southern California Trojans vs Seton Hall Pirates 64-54

The Trojans outclassed the Seton Hall Pirates by a respectable margin of 64-54. The USC started off on a high note upending the Pirates by a good margin of 23-7. The Seton came back in the second and fourth quarter albeit could not match up to the Trojans’ intensity.

Watkins was again in the spotlight for her game-high 15 points in what was a low-scoring match. She also grabbed 7 rebounds, and 3 assists and performed 2 blocks in the process. By now, Watkins had started getting a dominant amount of game time and she had also established herself as one of the prime players for the Trojans.

University of Southern California Trojans vs Penn State Lady Lions 71-70

The Trojans edged past the Penn State Lady Lions by an extremely narrow margin of 71-70. While the Lady Lions showed a collective team effort, the Trojans rode high on the back of Watkins. Watkins touched the 30-point mark for the third time as she basket’d 31 points.

It also marked her first and only double-double this season since nabbed 12 rebounds during the 37 minutes she plied her trade. She had an average 9-for-20 field goal tally and an eye-catching 11-for-14 free throw. Overall, an outstanding outing for Watkins with the day being etched in her name.

University of Southern California Trojans vs Cal Poly Mustangs 85-44

The USC went all guns blazing in their next game, decimating the Cal Poly Mustangs by an enormous margin of 85-44. The Trojans dominated in all four quarters and came out on top.

The credit for this comprehensive victory again went to Watkins who potted a game-high 30 points. She seized 4 rebounds and an equal number of assists in the process. Watkins also performed 5 steals and 2 blocks.

She had a 10-for-19 field goal tally and a cent percent free throw percentage. Thus she demonstrated her shooting skills and also amped up her defense.

University of Southern California Trojans vs San Diego Toreros 89-58

The Trojans thrashed the San Diego Toreros by a blowout margin of 89-58 in their seventh game and extended their unbeaten run to 7-0. Watkins once again was the player to watch out for sousing 30 points with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. 

She had a 6-for-6 free throw stat and 44% field goal percentage. Resting on her exploits, the Trojans bamboozled the Toreros in all the quarters. Going by their performance, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the USC make it to the top 5 in the next week’s AP polls.

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Taking cognizance of stats, Watkins is a tough contender for Clark for the major national player of the year award. Watkins averages 27.2 points in the 7 games she has played only behind Clark’s average of 29 points from 9 games. 

She has outperformed Clark with 48.3% three-pointers. Clark leads Watkins by leaps and bounds in terms of assists. Clark has 7.9 assists average whereas Watkins has 3.4 assists per match. Watkins had trumped Clark in terms of rebounds 7.5 while Clark has a mere 6.4.

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If Watkins continues to perform and be the core player for the USC, it would make complete sense if she surpasses Clark in the stats and also wins all the major national player of the year awards. The Naismith Player of the Year has only been won once by women freshman, Paige Bueckers. If Watkins wins it this time, she will register herself in history. Whatever may be the result, hopefully the best player will come out on top.

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Written by:

Ritvan Pande

420Articles

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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo

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