USC's Watkins wins 2024 Tamika Catchings Award as National Freshman Player of the Year

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – After leading USC to its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament since 1986, JuJu Watkins has been named the winner of the Tamika Catchings Award as the national freshman player of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Watkins will be honored along with the Tamika Catchings (National Freshman Player of the Year) and Women's National Coach of the Year award winners at the USBWA's annual awards banquet on April 17, hosted by the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis. In addition, the corresponding men's award winners (Oscar Robertson Trophy, Wayman Tisdale Award and Henry Iba Award) will be honored at the event.

Coming to USC as one of the nation's top recruits, the Los Angeles product did not disappoint. The 6-2 first-year guard set a school record – for women and men – with 13 games of 30-or-more points and was the USBWA's National Freshman Player of the Week three times this season.

Watkins is the nation's second-leading scorer at 27.0 points per game, which includes a 51-point outing in an upset at Stanford, the highest-scoring individual game in the nation this season. Her 42 points vs. Colorado on Feb. 23 is the most points ever scored by a USC player (male or female) at Galen Center, the home of the Trojans.

Watkins, who led the Trojans in scoring in 26 of their 31 games this season, consistenty fills up the box score as she is also the team's second leading rebounder with 7.2 to go with 2.4 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. She is just one of five Pac-12 players to ever accumulate at least 750 points, 150 rebounds and 50 steals in a season. 

As USC beat two top 10 foes in No. 7 UCLA and No. 2 Stanford along the way to winning the Pac-12 Tournament, Watkins was named to the All-Tournament Team. The Women of Troy's 26 wins are the most since the 1993-94 season and they open the NCAA Tournament on Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at home.

“There are freshmen who have won the Tamika Catchings Award simply by being better than the rest of the season’s rookies. Then there is the rare crowning honor of being an impact freshman and that’s JuJu," said Mel Greenberg, USBWA Vice President for Women. "From opening night, when her performance enabled the Trojans to stun Ohio State and quickly become a Top 10 program, she has been waking up the echoes of the Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie eras while becoming a must-see Hollywood sports talent."

The USBWA has named a national freshman player of the year since the 1991-92 season. In the 2020-21 season the award was named for Tamika Catchings, the legendary Tennessee star who was a three-time USBWA All-American and the association's national freshman player of the year in the 1997-98 season. Watkins is the first USC player to earn the honor and the first Pac-12 player since Kristine Anigwe at Cal in the 2015-16. Candice Wiggins of Stanford shared the award in the 2004-05 season, the only other Pac-12 player to win the award.

The USBWA was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 800 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at


2023-24: JuJu Watkins, USC
2022-23: Ta’Niya Latson, Florida State
2021-22: Aneesah Morrow, DePaul
2020-21: Paige Bueckers, UConn; Caitlin Clark, Iowa
2019-20: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
2018-19: Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
2017-18: Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M
2016-17: Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon
2015-16: Kristine Anigwe, California
2014-15: Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State
2013-14: Diamond DeShields, North Carolina
2012-13: Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame
2011-12: Elizabeth Williams, Duke
2010-11: Odyssey Sims, Baylor
2009-10: Brittney Griner, Baylor
2008-09: Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee
2007-08: Maya Moore, UConn
2006-07: Tina Charles, UConn
2005-06: Courtney Paris, Oklahoma
2004-05: Tasha Humphrey, Georgia; Candice Wiggins, Stanford
2003-04: Tiffany Jackson, Texas
2002-03: Seimone Augustus, LSU
2001-02: Jacqueline Batteast, Notre Dame
2000-01: Alana Beard, Duke
1999-00: LaToya Thomas, Mississippi State
1998-99: Linda Froehlich, UNLV
1997-98: Tamika Catchings, Tennessee
1996-97: Shea Ralph, UConn
1995-96: Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee
1994-95: Korie Hlede, Duquesne
1993-94: Leslie Johnson, Purdue
1992-93: Katie Smith, Ohio State
1991-92: Niesa Johnson, Alabama