Paige Bueckers did not receive the trophy she most wanted this weekend.
But the keeper of the UConn women’s basketball teams added to her trophy cabinet thanks to what has been a remarkable season for her.
Bueckers became the first freshman to win the Naismith Trophy as Player of the Year on Saturday, then became the first freshman to be named winner of the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award on Sunday as the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Player of the Year.
On Wednesday, she was the first freshman to be named Associated Press Player of the Year.
I learned a lot on the field and off the field, just the details of the game, the little things of the game that I never thought about in high school, Bueckers said Friday after the Huskies lost to Arizona in the NCAA- final. Four semifinals in San Antonio. I’ve learned things like off-ball moves, defensive moves, just how to play the game the right way. It’s a lot harder in college, so just get under the wing of Coach Genos and play with all the little details that make a great player. I feel like I’ve taken a little bit of steps and seen what it takes to be great.
Obviously I will just keep going and try to get better on and off the field. I’m just looking forward to getting back to work and winning a national championship soon.
Also on Saturday, she was named to the 10-player Womens Basketball Coaches Association All-America team, which will place her in the Huskies of Honor on the wall at Gampel Pavilion. Her final honor came on Sunday night, when she received the Nancy Lieberman Award as the highest point guard in the country.
Bueckers was selected to the Final Four all-tournament team. She had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists on Friday.
A 5-foot-11 native of Minnesota, Bueckers became UConn’s first freshman with an average of 20.0 points per game and set a freshman record in school with 168 assists. Her 36.2 minutes per game broke Wendy Davis’ 29-year school record (36.0).
In the Big East rankings, she was second in scoring (20.0), first in assists (5.8), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3), third in steals (2.3), sixth in field goal percentage (52.4), third in free throw percentage (86.9), and first in 3 point percentage (46.4).
She is the first player in conference history to be the greatest east player of the year, freshman of the year, and greatest player of the great east. She was also the MOP of the NCAA River Walk Regional.
Other Naismith and USBWA winners from UConn include Rebecca Lobo (1995), Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (Naismith 2003-04, USBWA 2003), Maya Moore (2009, 2011), Tina Charles (2010) and Breanna Stewart (2014-16).
Past UConn Lieberman Award winners include Bird (2000-02), Taurasi (2003-04), Renee Montgomery (2009) and Moriah Jefferson (2015-16).
The last national award will be presented today at the presentation of the Wooden Award. Bueckers, Boston, Evans, Howard and Smith are the finalists.
Christyn Williams may have known something.
We don’t have seniors, so everyone is coming back, Williams said after Friday’s loss.
But that was no guarantee, as redshirt junior Evina Westbrook declined to say whether she would be back with the Huskies or make herself available for the WNBA Draft.
But a caption on Westbrook’s Instagram post Sunday was two words: unfinished business. She is back for another season.
The junior with a red shirt had until Sunday evening to register for the draft, which will be held on April 15. It was projected by some as a first round.
She was actually eligible to come out a year ago when she turned 22 on September 28, 2020. She did not play during the 2019/20 season after the NCAA rejected her request for an exemption from the transfer rule, even though she had undergone two knee operations. probably would have sidelined her anyway.
Westbrook came to UConn in May 2019 after spending two seasons in Tennessee.
In 30 games in her first season on the field for the Huskies, she averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 30.7 minutes. She reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career (including Tennessee) in UConn’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 victory over Iowa.
Off the field, she received rave reviews from her coaches and teammates for her leadership skills and became what her teammates said was the Team Mom. At 22, she was the oldest player on the roster.
E is a great player and a great teammate, Williams said after the victory in Iowa. She’s doing the dirty work. It’s not all about points with E. Shes a great floor leader.
In its streak of 13 consecutive Final Four appearances, UConn has lost seven times in the national semifinals. With Arizonas losing to Stanford Sunday, it is the team that drove the Huskies 1-6 in the national championship game.