UConn's Paige Bueckers Wins 2021 Naismith Women's Player of the Year

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2021

UConn guard Paige Bueckers (5) celebrates a score against Baylor during the second half of a college basketball game in the Elite Eight round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Monday, March 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

After becoming the biggest star in women's college basketball as a freshman, Connecticut's Paige Bueckers was named the 2021 Naismith Women's Player of the Year.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Saturday that Bueckers beat out Kentucky's Rhyne Howard, Louisville's Dana Evans and South Carolina's Aliyah Boston. The 19-year-old was the first freshman to win the women's award in its 39-year history, and she joined Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson as the only first-year players to claim the honor.

Bueckers was the seventh player in UConn women's basketball history to win the award. She joined Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Breanna Stewart.

Coming out of Hopkins High School in Minnesota, Bueckers was the most-hyped player in the 2020 recruiting class and was ranked as the best overall recruit by ESPN.com.

Bueckers put up 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five steals in her first college game and averaged 20.0 points on 52.4 percent shooting, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals.

Bueckers helped UConn win the Big East regular-season and tournament titles and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA women's tournament before it bowed out to Arizona in the Final Four. She was named Big East and Associated Press Player of the Year.