USC vs. UConn live updates: Women’s March Madness Elite 8 start time, predictions and odds

USC vs. UConn live updates: Women’s March Madness Elite 8 start time, predictions and odds
USC vs. UConn live updates: Women’s March Madness Elite 8 start time, predictions and odds

(Illustration: Eamonn Dalton / The Athletic; Photos: Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — JuJu Watkins’ hands didn’t feel quite right. They were tingling in a way that seemed unnatural, and when she looked down at them, though they were physically there (all 10 fingers — check; perfectly manicured nails — check) they didn’t feel like her hands. Not the hands that made her the No. 1 recruit in the country. Not the hands that made the marvelous seem mundane as a high school basketball player. Not the hands that signed the first Nike name, image and likeness licensing deal for any high school girls basketball player ever.

She scanned the hallway for a basketball — thinking that might be the one thing that could bring her hands back into her body — but none were in sight. Near her was the tunnel, where at the end awaited the start of Watkins’ college career. She knew the questions that had swirled around her for months would finally be answered once she stepped on it: What could she make of herself and a long-dormant USC program?

“You nervous, Ju?” teammate Rayah Marshall teased her repeatedly the past few days. “Yes,” Watkins admitted. “A little.” And now, it seemed, her hands were in on it, too.

From the court, Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff experienced his own sense of the unknown. His Buckeyes — with their pressing intense defense — were ranked No. 7, a popular Final Four pick with a bevy of returners and future WNBA players.

And yet, McGuff had spent the bulk of his USC scouting watching high school and grassroots game tape of Watkins, something he couldn’t remember doing before. Because it was clear from the moment Watkins signed her letter of intent at Sierra Canyon that she would be the sun around which USC’s every other piece orbited.

Watkins’ first bucket came a minute into the game; her first assist, 30 seconds later.

Whatever jitters existed, whatever happened to her hands in that hallway, dissipated somewhere between the tunnel and tipoff. She dropped 32 points on Ohio State in a nine-point USC win. WNBA legend Candace Parker, who provided commentary for TruTV, said: “USC is in for a treat with JuJu Watkins’ career.”

But the moment that stuck out to McGuff wasn’t Watkins’ scoring. Or her highlight reel plays. Or even when Watkins performed the popular “too small” celebration after finishing through three of his players.

Continue reading.


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The article is in Dutch

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