is making high school history still — even in college. The former Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
star became the first MaxPreps National Player of the Year — male or female — to win the same award at the level as a freshman.
Bueckers became the first freshman ever to win Associated Press National Player of the Year in the women's game while leading UConn to the Final Four. She averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds during the regular season and has been even better in the postseason, averaging 22.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in four victories.
Her Huskies play Arizona on Friday in one semifinal and the winner takes on the victor between Stanford and South Carolina.
Four previous female MaxPreps Players of the Year have gone on to win the collegiate award — Maya Moore (2007), Breanna Stewart (2012), A'ja Wilson (2014) and Sabrina Ionescu (2016) — but none in their freshman college seasons. Stewart won it as a sophomore, junior and senior at UConn.
Bueckers, who was also the MaxPreps overall 2019-20 Athlete of the Year, has a chance to win it four times.
"It’s amazing, surreal for people to think of me that highly and to be
in that position as a freshman," Bueckers told reporters Wednesday. "To get this award, I’m
extremely humbled and grateful."
Here are five traits Paige Bueckers had at Hopkins that made Wednesday's announcement not so surprising.
1. She's a winner
She finished at Hopkins on a 62-game win streak. The coronavirus pandemic was the only thing holding her back from winning back-to-back unbeaten state titles. Hopkins finished No. 4 team in the 2019-20 MaxPreps Top 25 national rankings.
As a senior, the 5-foot-10 point guard averaged 21.4 points, 9.4 assists, 5.4 steals and 5.0 rebounds and finished with 1,998 career points, 487 rebounds, 563 assists and 405
The NBA's Minnesota
Timberwolves, including All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns, often made special efforts to show up at Hopkins' games. Her future coach Geno Auriemma told the Hartfort Courant while watching Bueckers in high school: "There are kids who play basketball, and then there are basketball players. She is a basketball player. Born to be a basketball player. Everything she does. She's a natural. She
just plays like 'This is my personal playground. When I get the ball, I
can do whatever I want with it, and you can't stop me.' "
4. Combination of basketball IQ and competitive fire
"She sees the game two or three passes in advance," her high school coach Brian Cosgriff said. She told MaxPreps: "I always want to win. That's my main objective. Even in board games with my family, I hate losing. I always have to win."
She told MaxPreps last spring: "I want to add to the (UConn) legacy. I'll have opportunities to win championships there. Everybody is saying the dynasty (at Connecticut) is over. Yeah, right. I guess we'll see."
Past MaxPreps National Girls Players of the Year
2020 — Paige Bueckers, Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)