The guards of the future in Storrs talk to High Post Hoops.
UConn fans may still be reeling from another national semifinal loss, but as they mourn the ends of two remarkable careers for Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier, it’s easy to find hope for the future.
They got their first dose a week ago when 2020 No. 1 prospect Paige Bueckers committed to the Huskies. Bueckers is a point guard with size, best known for her absurd passing ability.
The news got even better on Monday when 2020 Croatian point guard Nika Muhl announced her commitment. Muhl told reporters at the Final Four that her decision was likely coming closer to summer, but there was always a sense that she’d end up in Storrs.
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Now, UConn has the makings of an elite backcourt with still plenty of room to grow.
Bueckers looked up to Diana Taurasi, and it shows
Ask Bueckers which Huskies she admired growing up and she’ll rattle off the usual suspects, from Sue Bird to Maya Moore and everyone in between. Then ask who she modeled her game after, and Diana Taurasi is the first name out of her mouth.
It’s easy to see, even if Bueckers doesn’t play with her emotions bubbling over the surface quite like DT (not yet, anyway). Her confidence and panache will make her a fan favorite almost as soon as she arrives on campus.
Bueckers is listed at 5’11 and uses her height to her advantage. Browse her highlight tapes and you’ll find a bunch of full-court passes leading to easy baskets, rebounds and finishes through traffic, and more than her share of lobs and lay-ins.
“I feel like my vision and my height helps me be versatile and do a lot of things other than just running the point,” she said, adding that in high school, she grew comfortable playing the 1, 2, or 3.
Her height and vision are how you see plenty of this:
And also this:
It’s not difficult, then, to draw the Taurasi comparisons.
Bueckers can score in bunches, but she’s most fun as a distributor. It’s also why, she says, good players want to play with her.
“I think of myself as an unselfish player,” she said. “I put the team first. I want to play with players who can help me win a championship and our team can be the best.”
Nika Muhl is ready to get to work
Like Bueckers, Muhl was in Tampa last week taking in the spectacle of the Final Four. Muhl is from Croatia, where she has racked up gaudy assist and steal numbers. She admits that her shot still needs a lot of work, but she can get to the rim, distribute, and run the court.
Now that she has committed, Muhl says she plans to get stronger as she continues to hone her skills.
“Everything has to go up a few levels,” she said. “I need to go to the gym.”
Muhl grew up watching UConn, and says she looks up to Maya Moore, who “makes everything look so easy.”
Muhl has also said that she doesn’t anticipate having a problem playing with Bueckers, despite them both being point guards. Bueckers is her high school’s all-time leading scorer and has a more refined jumpshot than Muhl, so when the two share the court, Bueckers may play the 2. She also told reporters that team chemistry and relationships with players and coaches would be the most important factor in her college decision. She shouldn’t have a problem adapting to whatever Geno Auriemma envisions for her.
Regardless, it’ll be easy to find time for someone who can do this:
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