UConn's Paige Bueckers Named 2021 Women's Wooden Award Winner

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2021

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Connecticut star Paige Bueckers made history, becoming the first freshman to win the John R. Wooden Award for women's basketball.

Bueckers averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from beyond the arc. She learned of Monday's result during an appearance on SportsCenter.

The Athletic's Charlotte Carroll noted the Huskies guard has earned an entire cabinet full of individual trophies this season:

The Wooden Award factors in the regular-season and postseason tournaments.

Through her performance in the Big Dance, Arizona's Aari McDonald made a late push for the honor. McDonald was the engine behind the Wildcats' first-ever appearance in the national championship, and she dropped 26 points and seven rebounds in a 69-59 semifinal victory over UConn.

Texas' Charli Collier, South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, Baylor's NaLyssa Smith and Iowa's Caitlin Clark all built resumes worthy of earning the Wooden Award as well.

But few can take much issue with the final outcome.

According to Her Hoops Stats, Bueckers was first in win shares (12.9) and 15th in offensive rating (125.7). Going back to 2015-16, the 5'11" guard's 59.9 percent effective field goal rate was also second among freshmen with at least 300 shot attempts.

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The Hopkins, Minnesota, native was the most hyped player in the 2020 recruiting class, and she might have even exceeded expectations in her first year.

Thanks to Monday's win, Bueckers is now in a great position to do something no other player has to date.

The Wooden Award dates back to 1976-77 on the men's side and 2003-04 for the women. Ralph Sampson is the only two-time men's winner, while Seimone Augustus, Candace Parker, Maya Moore, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu all lifted the trophy twice.

Nobody has won it three times, and achieving that feat isn't an unattainable goal for Bueckers before she moves on to the WNBA.