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JuJu Watkins and Meta AI help promote women's basketball – Essence

Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Basketball star JuJu Watkins has really come into her own. Last season, she set the NCAA record for most points among freshmen, was named USBWA National Freshman of the Year, and was named an AP First-Team All-American. In addition to her athletic pursuits, she recently partnered with Meta to attend the brand's “Super Fan” event in New York City. There, guests were able to participate in a fireside chat that focused on how women's basketball has expanded beyond the realm of sports and influenced genres such as fashion, beauty, music, and art, encouraging female athletes to express their personalities and interests both on and off the court.

Since its launch in 2015, Meta AI has become one of the world's leading AI assistants. During the event, Watkins spoke about the impact and accessibility of Meta AI for young, aspiring athletes – particularly from underserved communities. “I think that girls who don't necessarily have the means to pay a coach or a nutritionist can now look up a workout plan or a diet plan with the power of Meta AI; there are so many resources basically right at our fingertips,” she said. “I think this can be a very powerful tool if used correctly.”

JuJu Watkins uses meta-AI to help boost women's basketball momentum
Photo credit: Chance Yeh

Watkins was joined on stage by Chance the Rapper, COVL, Ime Archibong and Chloe Pavlech, the panel moderator. The conversation revolved around topics such as Meta AI's potential to support emerging musicians and independent artists, as well as the program's effectiveness in learning more about your favorite players and teams.

“When you know the players better, you can empathize with them and even greater fans of them,” says Watkins. “And I think the accessibility of Meta AI and the ability to just search Instagram for facts about a player that they want to know or don't already know can help on a deeper level. There are a lot of opinions on social media and I think Meta AI can provide a lot of facts to help you form your own opinion about a player.”

Juju's participation in the event has been one of the driving forces behind the increasing popularity of women's basketball and a testament to the importance of the sport. Over the past two years, ratings for NCAA women's basketball as well as the WNBA have reached historic highs. Additionally, the 2024 women's tournament garnered 60% more earned media coverage than the men's tournament and recorded record viewership across all six rounds. As the game continues to grow, Watkins believes this is just the first step on the road to prosperity and inclusion.

JuJu Watkins uses meta-AI to help boost women's basketball momentum
Photo credit: Chance Yeh

“It's really inspiring to see how much the attendance has increased,” says the USC star. “To see so many fans in the stands – it's really inspiring to see how quickly it took off. Obviously it's been a long road to get to this point, but I think it will continue with more media exposure. I think the talent has always been there and will continue to be there. So as long as we have the right platform to get on the main stage, in primetime, I think our talent will speak for itself.”

For the new generation of basketball players—and for any other sport—technology and social media offer several benefits. Meta-AI can also help people learn about the game, hopefully ensuring its growth and success for generations to come.