It is indeed March Madness, and by the looks of things, the ladies of the NCAA got the memo. Juju Watkins has shown to be a standout in what has been an amazing month of action. With the likes of Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark still in the tournament, we’re witnessing a new star rise in Watkins. The team behind Watkins as well as she deserves the moment we’re witnessing. She is performing with a poise beyond her years, and that alone brings great intrigue to this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Boasting 26.9 points per game, the USC first-year is the V-12 engine on which the Trojans run. She dropped 23 points in her March Madness debut, which included scoring her team’s first seven points. That’s an invaluable quality to have on a team. What a way to set the momentum for a high-stakes game. It’s intangibles like this that will leave you in awe of Watkins being only 18 years old.

As the NCAA tournament continues, the pressures to win will continue to mount. The eyes of the country are solely on the game of college basketball, and women are not disappointing. What Watkins is accomplishing is dope on several levels. For one, with the advent of Name Image and Likeness (NIL) deals, students are playing collegiately a bit longer. The days of “one and done” seem to be a thing of the past now that students can monetize their abilities. So what that also means is that we can enjoy these premier college players a lot longer. As a result, they can continue to hone their skills and become even sharper pros if they choose to go that route.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea via Getty Images

Not to mention, the quality of Watkins’ play sends a great message to high school players who are seeking to reach similar levels. Her game shows just how box office you can be when you channel your given abilities with real dedication. Her play raises the intrigue of the high school game altogether. The real beauty of all of this is that the NCAA is showcasing how widespread the talent of the women’s game is. For far too long their product hasn’t perpetually been in the spotlight. Now it is, and I believe it’ll be this way for a while.

As the NCAA tournament continues, we’ll only continue to be blown away by the stellar play of all of these amazing young ladies. But I’m particularly interested in seeing just how far Watkins can take the USC Trojans as a first-year. She is also a finalist for the Wade Trophy and the Naismith Trophy. These awards are reserved for the top collegiate women’s players in the country, of which the USC guard undoubtedly is.

Photo: Candice Ward via Getty Images

With all these factors at play, we’re in line for a history-making month for Watkins. When it’s all said and done, she can be noted as another young woman raising the profile of the women’s basketball game in her own unique way. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s that the state of the game is so healthy with the wide array of skill sets being exhibited.