Photo from Slate
Paige Bueckers. If you watch any basketball, you’ve heard her name. I’ve been watching Paige closely this season, especially during this women’s NCAA tournament, and she continues to shock me every single game. She was a top recruit in the 2020 class, signed to UConn, everyone had very high expectations for her, and it's safe to say she exceeded them all.
This season she averaged 19.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, as well as winning multiple awards in her freshman season, awarding all she has brought to not only the program but to the sport as a whole. Those awards include both Big East Freshman and Player of the Year, Most Outstanding Player of the Big East Tournament, and an All-American. Along with that, she is a finalist for the Wooden award, and if won would be the first freshman to ever win it.
Photo from UConn Athletics
I was scrolling through social media the other day when I ran into a video of UConn star veteran Diana Taurasi commending this young guard in the highest of regards. Taurasi said this, “She’s the best player in basketball already,” and that got me thinking, got me reflecting, got me to write this article, going over some of the best women to ever play this sport. Is she the best? Can she be the best?
Photo from SB Nation
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Bueckers and UConn faced High Point where she scored 24 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Not only does she show up on the offensive end but she makes sure to be a force on the defensive end also, acquiring four steals and two blocks during that game. During the second round of the tournament, UConn faced Syracuse scoring 20 points, going 9-9 from the free-throw line. UConn then faced Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Sweet 16, Bueckers finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists helping her team close out a 92-72 win to advance to the elite 8. UConn will face Baylor today in hope of making it to the Final Four, Baylor is the most recent NCAA champion, so don't expect them to go down without a fight.
Photo from USA Today
Unlike most male college hoops, female freshman stars arn't able to take their talent to the next level right away. Bueckers will not play at the next level, not yet anyway. Even though she can shake up the WNBA, she will not be eligible until she graduates with her undergraduate degree or completes her four years of eligibility. So, till then, we will continue to watch her shine and continue to grow as a UConn Husky. This has been a big controversy, why can't women go straight to the league after freshman year? Men basketball stars such as Draymond Green, have been voicing how it isn't fair, how players such as Bueckers deserve to be in the league right now, but that just isn't how it is.
For now, we will continue to watch her career as a Husky, how far will she lead this team in this current tournament? How much will she grow until ready to go to the next level? And so much more. Overall, she has been an extremely consistent player, not afraid of any competition nor change, I promise you, she will be the next big thing. You will see her everywhere, she is a star!