Judea “Juju” Watkins is shaking up the prep circuit without having played a high school basketball game yet. Her high basketball IQ and athleticism earned her a scholarship to the Windward school. Standing at 6’0”, her performance on the court has garnered the attention of many, giving her thousands of followers on social media.
The likes of WNBA stars Cappie Pondexter and Odyssey Sims follow her on Instagram and Watkins is only in the eighth grade. Highlight reels show Watkins besting her opponents with a Euro Step, attacking the paint and blocking shots on defense.
Watkins plays travel ball for West Coast United and is ready to play against teams that are a few years older than her. She noted how she finds most of her formidable opponents outside of California.
“I decided to move up into older teams, like 16-17 years,” Watkins said. “It was really hard in the beginning because I had to adjust to the speed of the games. It was way faster than what I normally played, which is with my age group.”
Prior to playing for West Coast United, Watkins played for the GBL Lady Rebels. Basketball allowed Watkins to visit different states throughout the country. She recalled traveling to Canada to represent the USA for Ballin Across Borders last summer and the lessons she learned while competing in the Adidas Gauntlet Championship. The championship taught her to rise up to the challenge and have a strong work ethic at all times
“I was actually in foul trouble … and it was two minutes left and the [opposing player] kinda ran into me and then they called the foul, I fouled out at that point,” Watkins said. “I got the lead up by four because I hit a three, but I had to cheer on my team and we lost, but you win some, you lose some.”
Watkins is a descendant of union and Civil Rights activist Ted Watkins, who fought for the communities in Watts. Growing up, she would help out at the offices the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), a place where Ted was CEO of.
Getting into Windward was not easy, Watkins had to practice daily.
“Education-wise, I had to prepare for a test to take, the ISEE test so that I can get into the school,” she said. “I had to get a tutor, I had to transition my mind to focus more on education.”
Along with basketball, Watkins has an interest in songwriting and listens to music before games. Watkins flaunts a 3.64 GPA and history is her favorite subject.
“Our last project we wrote a mini book on different things that led to the abolishment,” Watkins said. “I had Nat Turner and how he did this whole rebellion.”
Watkins is a product of two basketball-playing parents, both of whom has trained her.
“My parents established everything they seen that I had potential and maximized on it,” she said. “They’re continuing to help me and support me through this basketball journey.”