With Caitlin Clark ready to make the leap to the WNBA, USC's JuJu Watkins is expected to be the next big star in Women's College Hoops. Watkins made a name for herself in her freshman year, setting several records and putting herself among the greats that ever dawned a Trojan uniform.

During the previous season, Watkins achieved 14 30-point games, guided USC to the NCAA Elite Eight, and set a new record for freshman scoring in the NCAA with 920 points. She's certainly poised to go on another amazing run next season with a year of experience in the college ranks under her belt. It's clear that her talent and record-shattering accolades will bring a lot of attention her way over the next few years.

But, in an interview on Podcast P with Paul George Presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment, she saluted her competitors and the various great players and teams in the women's college basketball landscape.

Podcast P cohost Dallas asked Watkins, “I’m sure you’re aware of the popularity of women’s basketball increasing over the last several years and you’re – especially next year with Caitlin [and others] gone it’s gonna be all you. Do you feel pressure, is it exciting? What is that feeling like knowing you’re the face of Women’s College Basketball here?”

She responded, “Whoa. That’s a big title. I wouldn’t be considered the person I am without my competition. The comp is everything. The conferences, the great teams. That’s really what matters, who you’re playing that’s also a factor in how great you are. So I wouldn’t say I’m doing it alone. There are great teams and so many great players and I’m glad I get to play against them.”

The Lady Trojans are a powerhouse with Juju Watkins

USC Trojans guard JuJu Watkins (12) drives to the basket during the second half against UConn Huskies guard Paige Bueckers (5) in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center.
© Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

A key factor to becoming a preeminent face in the sport of basketball is the ability to lead your team to wins. Watkins did just that in her first season. The Lady Trojans finished the year with a 29-6 record and a Pac-12 championship victory over outgoing Stanford star Cameron Brink. The team dominated the initial and subsequent rounds of the March Madness tournament, narrowly beating a strong Baylor team 74-70, and putting up a good fight against Paige Beckers and UConn, despite losing 80-73.

Despite losing in the Elite 8, USC is poised to be one of the most feared teams in the country. Along with the return of Watkins, the Trojans will see a highly touted class of recruits hit the court come the Fall. In comments obtained by the Orange County Register, USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb spoke about her team philosophy as she looks to replace the production of Ivy League transfers Kayla Padilla, McKenzie Forbes, and Kaitlyn Davis. The Orange County Register's Luca Evans asked Gottlieb if she was expecting Watkins to step up in her second year or if she'd bolster the roster with more talented transfers.

“I think both, right. I think – nobody’s standing pat,” she responded. “Everyone’s trying to get better. South Carolina’s trying to get better. UConn’s trying to get better. UCLA, USC, we’re all trying to get better. So, there are a number of ways to get better…In the past couple of seasons, we’ve had to almost rebuild the roster in the portal, or really go to the portal to kind of shape the roster. That’s obviously not the stage that we’re at, but we really believe in this freshman class, we believe in the returning players and their growth process, and at the same time, to be able to add a veteran presence is something that, certainly, we will look into.”

Next season, USC makes the jump to the Big 10. Per her comments to Evans, Gottlieb looks to prepare her team for the task of competing in a brand new conference.

“As for the Big Ten, I think we will spend more time in the fall and the summer studying opponents than we would, because, I knew the Pac-12 Conference schools like the back of my hand, just like they know us, kind of, although we played a little differently this year, but yeah, I think we can do the best we can to learn other people, but it doesn’t change how we play. Like, we’re trying to have USC be a blueprint, right. Like, we’re not going to adapt to other people. We’re going to try to be the best team in the country the way we play, and make people adjust to us.