The UConn commit follows in the footsteps of WNBA greats Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore
Paige Bueckers is currently the biggest name in high school basketball in the country. In the past year, she has been featured on the cover of SLAM magazine, garnered a coveted McDonald’s All-American roster spot and won gold with Team USA at the FIBA Under-19 Women’s World Cup (she won MVP of that tournament, too). Now, the Minnesota native can add a new accolade to her resume — on Monday, she was crowned the 2020 Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Minnesota Timberwolves star and former Gatorade Boys High School Basketball Player of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns surprised Bueckers with the award Monday morning. Towns and Timberwolves teammates D’Angelo Russell, Josh Okogie and James Johnson also attended Friday night’s Class 4-A sectional final game in which Bueckers scored 33 points.
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“I mean, the Gatorade Player of the Year is the most prestigious award you can win,” Bueckers said. “And for me to get that, it was definitely on my list of to-dos and obviously I’m not going to get everything checked off on that list, but to get this one checked off, it’s really big for me.
Established in 1986, the Gatorade Player of the Year awards are the most prestigious awards in high school sports. The award recognizes student-athletes’ outstanding athletic performance as well as “high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.”
Bueckers averaged 21.8 points, 9.3 assists, 5.3 steals and 5.1 rebounds per game while leading Hopkins High School to a 28-0 record and is currently gearing up for the state quarterfinals game against Cambridge-Isanti High School on Wednesday.
The No. 1 ranked high school prospect also has a 3.8 GPA and started her own series of youth basketball clinics, “Buckets With Bueckers,” which provides free admission to basketball players in Minnesota and Montana while also raising money for local charities.
Last week, Bueckers was named the Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year for Minnesota for the third year in a row and will become the tenth UConn player to receive the honor, following in the footsteps of Huskies greats like Katie Lou Samuelson (2015), Breanna Stewart (2012) and Maya Moore (2007).
Looking ahead, Bueckers seems excited for the challenge of carving her name into UConn’s storied history books and delivering more titles.
“I love proving people wrong and I love showing doubters that I can do it, and our team can do it and we’re not going anywhere,” Bueckers said.
Additional reporting by Howard Megdal
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