Paige Bueckers has made history once again. On Wednesday, she was named the AP National Player of the Year, becoming the first freshman ever to win the award in women’s college basketball.
BREAKING: @paigebueckers1 of @UConnWBB is the first freshman to be named The Associated Press women's basketball player of the year.— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) March 31, 2021
Story by @dougfeinberg >>https://t.co/LYb5ucOBBL pic.twitter.com/Jiq59OmSXJ
“Yesterday when I was told that I was actually the first freshman ever (to win the award), I didn’t believe it,” Bueckers told reporters on a Zoom call. “It’s really surreal and it just doesn’t seem like it’s real life right now. It hasn’t really sunk in yet but I’m just extremely grateful.”
Bueckers has enjoyed one of the best freshmen seasons in UConn history, leading the team with 19.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.3 steals per game and 47.4 percent mark from 3-point range. She also broke the Huskies’ freshman record for assists with 164 (and counting) and set a single-game program record with 14 assists against Butler.
The Hopkins, Minnesota native has already collected numerous accolades to this point. She was named WBCA Co-Freshman of the Year on Tuesday and has also been named an AP and Wooden All-American. Bueckers also brought home Big East Freshman and Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player award at the Big East Tournament and River Walk Region.
Bueckers helped guide UConn to a 13th consecutive Final Four thanks to a 28-point performance against Baylor on Monday night.
Bueckers is the ninth UConn player to win AP National Player of the Year, joining Rebecca Lobo (1995), Jennifer Rizzotti (1996), Kara Wolters (1997), Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2003), Maya Moore (2009, 2011), Tina Charles (2010) and Breanna Stewart (2014-16).
Even with her trophy case already filling up, Bueckers could still pick up hardware this season. The Naismith Trophy will be handed out on Apr. 3 while the Wooden Award will be announced on Apr. 5 on SportsCenter, and Bueckers is a finalist for both. She’s also in contention for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which goes to the best point guard in the country.