UConn’s Paige Bueckers first freshman to win Naismith Trophy for nation’s top women’s basketball player

UConn guard Paige Bueckers (5), left, celebrates a Husky basket with UConn guard Christyn Williams (13) in a quarterfinal game against St. John's in the Big East Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday afternoon. UConn won the game 77-41.
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Alexa Philippou Hartford Courant (TNS)

Her freshman season may be over after Friday’s heartbreaking loss to Arizona in the national semifinal, but UConn star freshman Paige Bueckers wasn’t done taking home individual accolades.

Bueckers became the first freshman to win the Naismith Trophy, awarded to the nation’s most outstanding player, on Saturday afternoon. She also was one of 10 players named to the WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America team earlier in the day, making her eligible, should she complete her degree, for the Huskies of Honor wall.

The Naismith Trophy is Bueckers’ second player of the year honor after she won Associated Press national player of the year last week. Bueckers is also a finalist for the Wooden Award, which will be announced Monday.

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Six other Huskies have won the Naismith Trophy: Rebecca Lobo (1995), Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2003-04), Maya Moore (2009, ’11), Tina Charles (2010) and Breanna Stewart (2014-16).

Bueckers completed her freshman season averaging 20.0 points per game — the best freshman scoring average in program history — on 52.4% shooting and 46.4% on 3s. She made her presence felt all over the court with 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

The 5-11 Hopkins, Minn., product averaged 21.6 points per game in the Huskies’ run to the Final Four, the program’s 13th straight. UConn fell to the No. 3 seed Wildcats, 69-59, in the national semifinal on Friday, ending the season 28-2.

Bueckers had previously been named Big East Player and Freshman of the Year, Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player, co-Freshman of the Year by the WBCA and USBWA, Associated Press, Wooden and USBWA First Team All-American; and NCAA Tournament River Walk Region Most Outstanding Player.

Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith was also named the Wade Trophy winner on Saturday, for which freshmen are not eligible.

 

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