Paige Bueckers, the top-ranked recruit in the class of 2020, made her UConn debut on December 12th inside an empty Gampel Pavilion against UMass Lowell. Bueckers is one of the most highly touted recruits to suit up for Connecticut in the past twenty years and she started her career off on a high note last Saturday.
Geno Auriemma has built the UConn Women’s Basketball program up from ground zero to one of the best sports dynasties of all time. The Huskies have appeared in 20 Final Fours since 1991 and have won 11 NCAA titles in that time period.
This recurring success was built by UConn greats like Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and so many more athletes over the years. The top recruits in the country have gathered in Storrs since the early nineties and it doesn’t look like this trend will stop anytime soon.
Hype and Paige Bueckers go hand in hand. So far, the 5’11” point guard has lived up to the high expectations that have been set, but is she the next legend at Connecticut?
Let’s take a look…
Paige Bueckers’ Debut
There has been an insurmountable amount of excitement surrounding Paige Bueckers. She was the National Gatorade Player of the Year in 2020 and headlined the McDonald’s All-American Game roster. Bueckers accolades are massive, but she now has a blank canvas that needs to be filled once again at UConn.
Bueckers committed to UConn back in April of 2019. Ever since that day, Storrs has been buzzing in anticipation for Paige Bueckers to step foot on campus.
Bueckers was phenomenal in her Connecticut debut. She played 36 of 40 minutes against UMass Lowell and put up 17 points. Bueckers demonstrated that she is a complete player. In addition to her 17-point scoring effort, Bueckers had 5 assists, 5 steals, and 9 total rebounds.
In the post-game press conference, Geno Auriemma had nothing but praise for the nineteen-year-old freshman. Auriemma thought Bueckers confirmed to the country that she is worthy of all the hype.
In my opinion, Bueckers was phenomenal. She made it clear that she can do everything. She was selfless all afternoon and didn’t force any shots. This is obvious if you look at her shooting percentage. Bueckers made 8 of 11 shots from the field while showcasing her ability to spread the ball around the court as well.
How Good is Paige Bueckers?
Paige Bueckers has only worn a Connecticut jersey one time in her basketball career. Bueckers has played against better competition at the AAU level in high school than she saw in her first contest against UMass Lowell.
Anyone can have a good showing against a bad team, but Bueckers made her case for why she has the potential to headline the program for the next four years.
It’s no secret that Bueckers is an outstanding athlete. She models parts of her game after Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi which was evident last Saturday.
Is Bueckers the Next UConn Women’s Basketball Legend?
The most important thing that I viewed from Bueckers in her debut was her character. The best basketball players are selfless competitors that will do anything for their teammates. Against UMass Lowell, she displayed her outstanding character in more ways than one. Bueckers didn’t try to steal the show. She simply just played team basketball and that’s something you can’t teach a nineteen-year-old kid.
I would define myself as a realist. I believe that hype doesn’t mean a damn thing. You can’t judge an athlete from a single game. The greatest players in UConn history have put together very impressive track records over the years. Bueckers has just started writing her own book at UConn. Even though it’s off to a very good start, the novel is just beginning. Bueckers still has a lot to prove, but my gut feeling is that she will make a big impact on campus before her time at UConn runs out.
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