McDonald’s 1.jpg- (L-R) LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. and Judea “Juju” Watkins pose with their McDonald’s All-American jerseys (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Sierra Canyon high school basketball standouts Judea “Juju” Watkins and LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. were elected to be 2023 McDonald’s All-Americans. The high school hosted an assembly to honor the two student athletes on Monday.

“We have the opportunity to honor two of our students who have achieved something at the highest levels in our country this year,” said Sierra Canyon head of school Jim Skrumbis. “It is my pleasure to once again assemble to really signify the kind of achievement that’s been taking place here at our school.”

Veteran radio personality Big Boy was the master of ceremonies for the event.

“Since 1977, McDonald’s has invested in basketball in local communities the All-American game, showcasing the best talent that America has to offer,” Big Boy said. “The top 24 boys and girls are selected from a pool of over 700 student athletes.”

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During the ceremony, Watkins was presented with the Naismith Girls High School Player of the Year trophy. She noted how becoming a McDonald’s All-American is “a dream come true.”

McDonald’s 2.jpg- (L-R) Robert Watkins, Juju, and Sari Watkins. Juju poses with her Naismith girls basketball Player of the Year jersey (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“I feel like I’ll be surrounded by a lot of great players,” Watkins said. “To share that moment with them will be special.”

The Watts native was recently named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. During the 2022-2023 season, Watkins averaged 27.5 points per game. This led the Trailblazers girls’ basketball team to a 31-1 overall record and a 10-0 Mission League record.

Sierra Canyon defeated Etiwanda 70-57 to win the Southern Section Open Division championships. The Trailblazers reached the regional final of the Open Division State tournament. Throughout the season, Watkins’ biggest lesson was the importance of having fun.

“I had a lot of fun with my team and I enjoyed every moment,” she said. “I look forward to do that in the future.”

Watkins’ mother, Sari, noted how epic it has been to see her hard work pay off. Winning the Southern Section Championship was like “the icing on the cake,” according to Sari.

“She has an incredible work ethic, she puts a lot of hours in her craft,” Sari said. “Looking on the outside in she is very ambitious to get better to feel full with her accomplishments.”

McDonald’s 3.jpg- (L-R) Michael Teck, Savannah James, Bronny, LeBron James, Bryce James (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Watkins is the first ever Trailblazers girls’ basketball player to become a McDonalds All-American. James becomes the fourth player in the history of the boys’ basketball team to gain the honor. Lakers star LeBron James noted how he is proud of his children’s accomplishments.

“It’s all about the journey, it’s all about the support system that we have,” LeBron Sr. said. “To see Bronny accomplish a dream of his to be one of the top 24 players in the country, girls and guys, it’s pretty cool.”

As a freshman, James helped the Trailblazers boys’ basketball team defeat the Mater Dei Monarchs 59-48 in the 2020 Southern Section Open Division Championship. This past season he helped the squad to a 23-11 overall record and a 5-2 Mission League record. They also reached the CIF State Regional finals.

“He played in front of sold-out arenas from China, to France, to England, to Italy,” Big Boy said. “James was selected for the McDonald’s All-American game last month and will represent Team USA and the Nike Hoop Summit in Oregon in August.”

Local McDonald’s Owner/Operator Michael Teck and his son handed out the Jerseys to James and Watkins. He noted how becoming a McDonald’s All-American is “an amazing accomplishment.”

“Being at McDonald’s and knowing what we can give back to the local community and what we’ve done for basketball, it’s my pleasure to be here,” Teck said. “It is thrilling to give out an award like this to two exceptional athletes.”