Paige Bueckers had one of the most impressive seasons ever in 2020/2021. Hailing from the snowy tundra in Minnesota, Bueckers quickly rose through the ranks and caught the eye of top programs eager to capture her signature on where she would play her collegiate ball. Bueckers was courted by many before declaring her intent to take her talents to UCONN, the most prolific women’s college basketball program. Bueckers showed her prowess turning in a 17 point performance in a rout of UMASS Lowell. She followed that debut with a dazzling display of 32 points against St. John’s, the first Connecticut freshman to accomplish such a feat since Tina Charles in 2007.
Bueckers rose to the occasion at each challenge she faced, as she acclimated to the competitive rigor of the Big East Conference. One thing that was apparent about Bueckers was that she consistently performed at a high level. She was ready for this stage and ready to show why she was the most complete player in the country regardless of class. A 30 and 32 point showing against Marquette and South Carolina respectively warranted Bueckers to be mentioned in the conversation of the Wooden Player of Year watch list, something no other freshman had the distinctive privilege of having. Bueckers also broke the UCONN program record of assists with 14, and went on to finish the season averaging 20 points, five assists, five rebounds, two steals while shooting the three at a clip of 47%. Bueckers earned many accolades for an outstanding season, most notably Player of the Year, becoming the first freshman to do so. But the most daunting task for Bueckers and the Huskies lay ahead trying to break the slump they had been in once reaching the annual NCAA tournament: progressing past the semifinals of the women’s basketball championship. This year was no different, they seamlessly skated through the opening rounds advancing to the Final Four. Their play earned them a battle with the Aari McDonald led Arizona Wildcats. Bueckers struggled against the defense of Wildcats who played a physical, brutal defensive scheme, highlighted with trapping Bueckers whenever she got the ball. This eradicated her offensive influence, and limited her creativity and ability to get her teammates involved. Arizona went on to prevail advancing to the title, as Bueckers finished with 18 points in a losing effort closing the curtain on a hopeful season.
Bueckers is hoping this new season that is quickly approaching will be her season to once again lead UCONN women’s basketball back to the pedestal where the program belongs.