USC star JuJu Watkins credits $3.4 million NIL-valued Caitlin Clark and crew for her stardom: “I wouldn’t be the person I am”

Iowa star Caitlin Clark and USC star JuJu Watkins Iowa star Caitlin Clark and USC star JuJu Watkins

USC Trojans star JuJu Watkins broke several records in the just-ended season and led her team to the Elite Eight for the first time in a generation, even as celebrities flocked to her games to watch her play basketball.

During a recent appearance on “Podcast P with Paul George,” Watkins rejected the title as the face of college basketball after the departure of $3.4 million NIL-valued Caitlin Clark (as per On3) to the WNBA, instead credited her opposition.

“Whoa, that’s a big title,” Watkins said. “I wouldn’t be considered the person I am without my competition. The comp is everything, the conferences, the great teams, that’s really what matters, just who you’re playing … wouldn’t say I’m doing it alone.

“There’s great teams everywhere, so many great players and I’m just glad that I get to play against them. She’s (Clark) amazing, and just seeing what she has accomplished is so motivating.”

JuJu Watkins continues to break records

During the USC Trojans’ 80-73 Elite Eight loss to Paige Buecker’s UConn Huskies, JuJu Watkins registered 29 points, 10 rebounds and two assists on 36% shooting from the field and 33.3% shooting from deep.

Watkins also broke a long-standing record. She surpassed San Diego State’s Tina Hutchinson (898 points) as the top-scoring Division I freshman, a record that had stood since the 1983-1984 season.

During her postgame news conference, JuJu Watkins expressed her delight at clinching the record.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Watkins said of passing Hutchinson. “I mean, of course, like I said, not really the terms I would like to end on. On my season, I mean, I’m just blessed.

“This program has offered me a lot. I’m so grateful for it. It’s just been a great season. The record is great. Just the moments that I’ve got to spend with this team have meant everything to me. I’m just excited for next year.”

Watkins (110 points) missed out on the most points scored by a freshman in the NCAA Tournament held by Tamika Catchings of Tennessee, who finished the 1996 Big Dance with 111 points.

Watkins finished the season averaging 27.3 points (No. 2 in the country), 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists, with her statistics rivaling those of Caitlin Clark. She is poised to take advantage of the boom in women’s college basketball as well.

While she might reject the title of the next face of college basketball, JuJu Watkins is certainly showing all the qualities that make her the de facto heir to Caitlin Clark’s throne.

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