National Players of the Year Become First Pair of Winners to Attend Same University

ATLANTA (March 3, 2023) – The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today that Judea “Juju” Watkins of Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles, California, and Isaiah Collier of Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia, were named the winners of the 2023 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year Trophy, recognizing them as the most outstanding high school basketball players in the country.

With both committed to the University of Southern California, Watkins and Collier become the first winners of the award to go on to play collegiately at the same university. Watkins will follow in the footsteps of the trophy’s 1990 winner Lisa Leslie, who also played for USC and claimed the 1994 Jersey Mike’s Naismith College Player of the Year Trophy as a Trojan.

“Juju and Isaiah’s exceptional performances throughout the season have earned them the achievement of Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We are thrilled to honor them with this recognition and wish them all the best as they advance to the next level in their basketball careers at the University of Southern California. Their outstanding achievements on the court are a testament to their extraordinary talent and hard work.”

More about Judea “Juju” Watkins:
• Top-ranked player in the class of 2023 according to multiple recruiting services
• 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup MVP
• 2022 MaxPreps National Player of the Year
• 2022 Gatorade California Girls Basketball Player of the Year
• Averaging 13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game this season
• She is the second High School Girls Player of the Year in a row to attend a Los Angeles-area college, with 2022 winner Kiki Rice currently playing for UCLA

“To win the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy means a lot,” said Watkins. “It’s been a goal of mine and definitely on my checklist because growing up you dream of attaining accolades like this. I’m just really humbled.”

More about Isaiah Collier:
• Top-ranked player in the class of 2023 according to multiple recruiting services
• Selected as a member of the 2023 USA Men’s Nike Hoop Summit Roster
• No. 2 point guard in the 2023 ESPN National Player Rankings
• He is the fourth Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Boys Player of the Year to come from an Atlanta-area high school, joining Derrick Favors (2009), Dwight Howard (2004) and Lou Williams (2005)
• He is the Trojans’ first No. 1 overall recruit in the modern recruiting era

“First, I want to give honor to God, who has blessed me with the opportunity to play the game of basketball,” said Collier. “Second, I want to thank my family, who are ‘My Rock,’ my coaches and teachers, and my teammates and friends for supporting me throughout my journey on and off the court. I’m truly humbled to be mentioned alongside the previous Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy winners, and my fellow nominees. I will cherish this moment for years to come.”

The Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year Trophy was first presented in 1987. The winners are selected by a group of basketball journalists from around the country who form the Naismith Awards national high school voting academy. The selections were based on outstanding on-court performances during the 2022-23 high school basketball season.

“On behalf of Jersey Mike’s and our franchise owners across the country, we extend our warmest congratulations to Juju and Isaiah for being named this season’s Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Players of the Year,” said Jeff Hemschoot, vice president of marketing at Jersey Mike’s. “Their unwavering dedication and remarkable talent in the sport were evident throughout the year, and they have made their respective schools and local communities proud.”

Each winner will be awarded with the Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Trophy, produced and provided by Herff Jones, leading provider of graduation and educational products and services designed to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for students. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff Jones to the players’ high schools. Past notable boys winners have included Jason Kidd (1992, St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, Alameda, California), Kobe Bryant (1996, Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, Pennsylvania), LeBron James (2003, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Akron, Ohio) and Derrick Favors (2009, South Atlanta High School, Atlanta). Notable girls winners have included Lisa Leslie (1990, Morningside High School, Inglewood, California), Chamique Holdsclaw (1995, Christ the King, Middle Village, New York), Candace Parker (2003, Naperville Central, Naperville, Illinois) and Maya Moore (2006 and 2007, Collins Hill High School, Suwanee, Georgia). The 2022 winners of the award were Kiki Rice (Sidwell Friends School, Washington, DC) and Dariq Whitehead (Montverde Academy, Montverde, Florida).

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Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.


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Media Contact:
Traci Messier
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club
[email protected]