Bueckers is living through a year unlike any that her predecessors experienced at her age. She might well be a generational talent. But first she has to get through a year that will shape a generation.
If not for the pandemic, Bueckers said she would have left for Storrs toward the end of May. Instead she was still home in Minnesota in the days that followed George Floyd's death in police custody on May 25. She said she participated in marches and food drives for the communities affected by the protests that roiled Minneapolis. Bueckers, who is white, acknowledged that she understands she doesn't experience the same injustice as members of the Black community. She also knows Drew might.
"It sucks having to have those conversations with your little brother on how he should act because of his skin color," said Bueckers. "And him being only 7, it's even harder because he's so young he doesn't truly understand it. It's been hard having those conversations. And yeah, I'm scared for him and scared for myself because that's my little brother, my best friend, really. I'm really close to him. Just having that fear of one wrong judgement and his life could be on the line, it's super scary and it's something I want to change -- something I want to help change."
And while she wouldn't follow Stewart out onto the limb of predicting four championships before she plays a game for Huskies, a promise Stewart kept, Bueckers left no doubt about the company she aspires to keep on the court.
"It's just never a plan for me to lose -- I'm not going to go out and say I only want to win one or two," Bueckers said with apparent angst at how those words would sound. "I want to win four. Everybody should want to win four. So I don't really understand the problem with people saying that. I mean, that's obviously a goal of mine is to win four national championships, as it should be everybody else's."
Imagine the horror if Paige had followed Marlene to Texas Tech. Of course, the advantage in being a star is that at the first sign of horrible coaching, one would recognize that, and just leave.And she knew that she wasn't going to put up with her toxic coaching style.
Paige Bueckers is still more than a month away from playing her first game for UConn, but the nation's top-ranked recruit has already gotten a taste of Division I trash talk from someone with 11 national championships and more than 1,000 wins.
After the first full practice of the season Wednesday, UConn coach Geno Auriemma explained what it's like to coach the 5-foot-11 freshman guard, who already has a bigger Instagram following than that of Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart or Diana Taurasi.
"Hey, it's just great to be in the presence of greatness and be in her aura of her celebrity-ness," Auriemma said. "We've been such a downtrodden program for all these years. We needed that savior to come in here and save us. She's the anointed one. I'm waiting for the three Magi [to] come to bring me some gifts for having her."
Bueckers acknowledged Wednesday that she gets an earful from the famously sarcastic coach.
"He calls me Paige Kardashian all the time," Bueckers said.
The Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year as a high school senior -- a national award across sports whose previous winners include UConn greats Charles, Moore and Stewart -- Bueckers didn't sound Wednesday like someone bothered by her coach's needling.
"I go into his office all the time just to talk," Bueckers said. "Just to be able to have that open relationship, where we can talk about anything and have a good relationship, means a whole lot. That's huge in where I wanted to decide where I go to school is having a great relationship. I'm a big relationship person."
Azzi Fudd, the consensus top women's basketball prospect in the Class of 2021, ended years of speculation on Wednesday, announcing that she will attend UConn in the fall, joining one of the most dynastic programs in the history of sports.
Fudd, who was 12 when she received her first scholarship offer, has been compared to WNBA superstar and likely Hall of Famer Maya Moore. At 15, she outshot the best boys' prospects in the country at Stephen Curry's SC30 Select Camp. At 16, she became the first sophomore in history to win the Gatorade National Girls' Basketball Player of the Year award. She turned 18 on Wednesday, and planned to mark the occasion by signing her national letter of intent on the first day of the NCAA's early signing period.
STORRS, Conn. — Freshman Paige Bueckers scored 17 points in her UConn debut, and the third-ranked Huskies routed UMass-Lowell 79-23 on Saturday.
Bueckers, last year's national high school player of the year, also had nine rebounds, five assists and five steals
Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma has a theory on why anyone thinks there’s a better freshman in the country than his starting point guard, Paige Bueckers.
“I’m not boasting, but if I talked to every single coach in America and they told you they’d rather have their freshmen than Paige, I would tell you they’re only saying that to be nice to their own players,” Auriemma told a media gathering on Zoom last week. “In my mind, there isn’t anything Paige can’t do on the court.”
Even so, the biggest challenge to Bueckers as the best freshman this season doesn’t come from Brink or from Paopao. Nor does it come from the dynamic combo guard Diamond Johnson at Rutgers, who has scored in double figures in her first eight games and at least 18 in her past four contests.
It’s not even the duo of Hailey Van Lith and Olivia Cochran of Louisville, a pair of newcomers both north of two win shares already, helping Jeff Walz’s Cardinals to title contention once more alongside player of the year candidate Dana Evans. Nor is it Lexi Fleming, the nation’s leader in win shares among freshmen, hitting 37.3 percent of her threes with a 7.6 turnover percentage as a 5-foot-5 point guard for Bowling Green.
No, it is Caitlin Clark of Iowa, who is staking her claim as not only freshman of the year, but player of the year as well.
After her 27-point, 10-rebound performance in Wednesday’s overtime loss to undefeated Ohio State, Clark is averaging 25.7 points per game, good for third in the country among all players. She is shooting 53.1 percent from two and 37 percent from three, but even these lofty numbers undersell her offensive value, as she is a volume shooter from all three levels on the floor. Her finishing at the rim is pro-ready, and she’s taking 8.4 threes per game — reflecting an Iowa team that is absolutely committed to giving her the reins.
Her teammate, Monika Czinano, has a joint perspective on the great Bueckers vs. Clark debate, as a Minnesota native like Bueckers. She’s not ready to declare a winner just yet.
“They’re both really amazing, and I’d say they play very differently,” Czinano said of the duo. “I think a lot of the freshmen in this class, they have different things, different niches, different things that they’re really good at. And I do think that with this team at this time, Caitlin is kind of what we needed — and things are moving and flowing really well.”
especially on the boys side.. if all that talent stays home we would be an elite 8 team every year, its crazy to think of the elite elite talent that leaves,Man, Minnesota produces lots of high school basketball talent (boys and girls). Just wish we could get more of them to play for the maroon and gold.
UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is known for his caustic motivational quips, but he was fresh out of them after Friday's 87-58 victory at Marquette. Auriemma called the game "one of the best things we've done this year; I'm pretty proud of them."
And he had extra praise for freshman guard Paige Bueckers, saying, "She's being Paige. She's being about as good a player as there is in the country right now."
Bueckers' 30 points against Marquette for the No. 3 Huskies gave her back-to-back games of 30 points or more; she scored 32 in Wednesday's victory over St. John's. She's the only UConn freshman with back-to-back 30-point games in the past 20 years, and one of only five UConn players overall in that stretch to achieve the feat, joining Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson, Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes.
On Friday, she was 12-of-18 from the field, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Bueckers is shooting 59.6% (34-of-57) from behind the arc this season, and 76% (19-of-25) in the past four games. Her total Friday was her season high in treys.
"Paige spent the earlier part of the season just trying to feel things out," Auriemma said. "Lately, she's been more kind of directing what we're doing. And instead of kind of following a little bit, I think she's pushing and leading. This is what we see every day in practice. And I've been seeing it since September."
Then Auriemma joked, "When she shoots and it doesn't go in, she gets yelled at. Like, 'What's your problem?' We think they're all going in."
Love watching her play. Talent and skill and knows how to play. So special.
Well, after all she does hail from the same school/tradition as Blake H.
I know this a Bueckers thread, but what makes Geno “a puke”? I actually think he handles success incredibly well.She's tremendous and there is a long thread on the WB board about her. She had a Whalen poster in her room but she had already decided on UConn by the time we made a coaching change. Geno is a puke but he is big time winning puke.
Pre-covid I used to run the indoor track above both the boys' and girls' courts at Hopkins on winter late afternoons and the talent on both teams has been pretty special. Relatively speaking, Bueckers was the best of everybody by far. She was so much better than her teammates that you could tell she was bored, but she never acted like a prima donna during practice, at least when I was watching. The coach of the girls team was a non stop screamer. A junior Bobby Knight.Love watching her play. Talent and skill and knows how to play. So special.