Video: Paige Bueckers highlights
See the 2019-20 Player of the Year in action.
"I always want to win," Paige Bueckers
said. "That's my main objective."
Combine that steely determination to dominate with elite athleticism and an off-the-charts basketball IQ, and you have the 2019-20 MaxPreps Player of the Year.
Athleticism? The Hopkins' boys coach says the 5-10 Bueckers could start for his team.
Basketball IQ? "She sees the game two or three passes in advance," said coach Brian Cosgriff.
And yes, she's competitive. "Even in board games with my family, I hate losing," says Bueckers. "I always have to win."
"I would have to pull Paige out of practice because she plays so hard," says Cosgriff. "I was afraid she'd get hurt."
"I have a hard time listening when people tell me to slow down," she concedes.
And it wasn't that Bueckers was just trying to score — she works just as diligently on her defense. "She always wants to guard the other team's best player," said Cosgriff. "She takes pride in that."
She can also take pride in her international experience, as she started every game for the United States Under-17 team in 2018, and ran the show for a roster (a 4.1 assist-to-turnover ratio) that included players like South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, Stanford's Haley Jones and Texas' Jordan Horston. In 2019, playing for the U-19 team, she scored more (11.6 points per game) and still led the team in assists by a wide margin.
With Minnesota's high school association preventing teams from traveling, Bueckers and Hopkins were unable to show how good they were against top-flight competition in tournaments such as the Nike TOC or She Got Game.
But Bueckers, like Sabrina Ionescu (who she resembles in competitive fire), will soon be a familiar figure on the national stage. The next step is UConn, which means that Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe will be discussing her in depth by December.
Not surprisingly, Geno Auriemma recognized Bueckers' potential impact early on. "Geno has been here as many times as he could be here," says Cosgriff, but it wasn't that hard a sell for Bueckers.
"I want to add to the legacy," she says. "I'll have opportunities to win championships there."
And for Bueckers, winning is the most important thing.
Past MaxPreps National Players of the Year