It’s time to talk about the greatest player in college basketball. Yes, I’m talking about Paige Bueckers. The freshman sensation at the University of Connecticut is taking the country by storm while putting on a clinic on the basketball court. As usual, the Huskies are loaded with talent, but the team starts and stops with Bueckers.
Paige Bueckers: The Next Connecticut Husky Superstar
Getting to Know Paige Bueckers
Bueckers is a 5’11 freshman point guard from Hopkins, Minnesota. If you have social media, you have seen highlights of her ruining a defender with her insane handle, making a ridiculous no-look pass, or hitting a dagger three. Are those enough adjectives for you?
Bueckers won every single high school award you can imagine, including 2019-20 Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year and 2019 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. Yes, she really is that good.
The Huskies are known for their long history of success and have put some of the greatest female hoopers ever in the WNBA. That list includes Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, and so many more. Bueckers isn’t just part of that list. She has a chance to be at the top of that list.
Paige Bueckers Freshman Season
To this point, Bueckers has played 14 games. In those games, she is shooting 57 percent from the field and 60 percent from three. Those shooting splits add up to 20.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game. Again, she is a freshman on a team full of stars and other number one recruits.
In Bueckers worst shooting game, against Tennessee, she suffered a tough ankle injury and still came back in to hit the game-clinching three. There are just not enough superlatives to describe her game.
Bueckers has a great feel for the game. As the primary playmaker, she thrives in a pick-and-roll and can carve up defenses. Even though she is by far the best scorer on the team, she is always looking to make a play for others first.
On the other hand, she is fantastic off the ball. She can spot up and knock down a shot from anywhere on the court. She can curl off a screen and create for herself and others. Bueckers also draws so much attention by her energy and movement off-ball that her teammates get easy looks, a la Stephen Curry.
Shining Brightest Under the Bright Lights
Probably the most incredible aspect of Bueckers freshman season is how comfortable she is in the clutch. She has several massive performances against ranked teams, including near triple-doubles against a few.
In Connecticut’s biggest game to date, a matchup against top-ranked South Carolina, Bueckers was dominant in the second half. She put up 31 of her team’s 63 points, including the last 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. This game was a picture-perfect view of just how special she is. Bueckers made contested shot after contested shot down the stretch to knock off the number one team in the nation.
Bueckers’ basketball IQ is beyond her years. She plays with great pace and is always under control. She seems to read the play a few steps ahead and always gets the ball in the right place. Any former Husky guard, especially Sue Bird, will tell you that Coach Geno Auriemma is really tough on his skilled guards. Bueckers plays 36 minutes per game, which is closer to 39 minutes against good teams and she almost never draws criticism from Auriemma.
What Does the Future Hold
Without mincing words, Bueckers is the number one pick in the draft whenever she chooses to leave school. Given that the best female players typically stay in school for at least three years, Bueckers may do the same and stack up titles like Breanna Stewart.
It is entirely possible that Bueckers averages a triple-double for a full season at some point and has the effect Sabrina Ionescu did. It is also possible that Bueckers averages 35 points per game when she realizes how easily she can score and dominate the game that way. The point is, she is as multiple a player as any in recent memory. She has the playmaking and basketball IQ of Ionescu with the scoring ability of someone like Taurasi.
The comparisons to Sue Bird are credible, but Bueckers is going to be an even better scorer. Please take this to mean you have to watch a Huskies game and see how special Bueckers is. Next year, Bueckers is going to take the world by storm. She will be joined by more stars including Azzi Fudd and the Huskies of old will be back.
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