USC commits Juju Watkins and Isaiah Collier, named high school players of the year

Earlier Friday, Atlanta Tipoff Club announced that future Trojans Judea “Juju” Watkins and Isaiah Collier were named the 2023 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Players of the Year.

This marks the first time in the awards’ history that both the girls’ and boys’ winners will go on to play for the same university. 

 “We are thrilled to honor [Watkins and Collier] with this recognition and wish them all the best as they advance to the next level in their basketball careers at the University of Southern California,” said Executive Director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club Eric Oberman in a press release. “Their outstanding achievements on the court are a testament to their extraordinary talent and hard work.”

Both Watkins and Collier committed to USC late last year, with Watkins committing on Nov. 15 and Collier committing a day later on Nov. 16. Both are considered the No. 1 recruits in their respective classes, with Collier being USC men’s basketball’s first No. 1 recruit in the modern recruiting era.

“I’m truly humbled to be mentioned alongside the previous Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy winners, and my fellow nominees,” Collier said in a press release. “I will cherish this moment for years to come.”

Collier joins NBA greats such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd by winning the award. He will compete with Team USA this summer as part of the Nike Hoop Summit roster.

Watkins also joins some elite company, as she will join former Trojan Lisa Leslie, who was the last Trojan to win the award.

“To win the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy means a lot. It’s been a goal of mine and definitely on my checklist because growing up you dream of attaining accolades like this,” Watkins said in a press release. “I’m just really humbled.”

Watkins, the 2022 Gatorade California Girls Basketball Player of the Year, has garnered a name for herself as one of the future stars of women’s basketball. She first gained notice when she suited up for Team USA and claimed the FIBA U17 World Cup MVP in 2022. She is currently leading her high school team Sierra Canyon to an undefeated 31-win season.

The USC men’s and women’s teams haven’t made the NCAA tournament in the same season since 1997, and Watkins and Collier could bring a change to USC basketball.