Bueckers scored 31 points — including a dramatic game-sealing 3-pointer in overtime — against one of the best defenses in the country as No. 2 UConn edged top-ranked South Carolina last Monday. Bueckers leads the Huskies in multiple categories — scoring average (21.1 points), minutes played (36.6), 3-point percentage (55.4), assists (91), and steals (39) — as a freshman.
She has done so much, been so dominant. She has even earned praise from coach Geno Auriemma (never an easy thing for a UConn freshman) and made an immediate impact on the Huskies, who are 16-1 and should be ranked No. 1 when the AP poll comes out next week.
So it begs the question: Is Paige Bueckers the best freshman in UConn women’s basketball history?
Doris Burke, Rebecca Lobo and others are telling us to calm down. We know that this season is not your normal season, shortened due to COVID-19. That the UConn women’s basketball team is not your normal UConn women’s basketball team, inexperienced due to no seniors.
But we just have to ask: Is she better than Diana Taurasi her freshman year? Maya Moore? Nykesha Sales? Breanna Stewart?
“Think about the names you just mentioned,” Burke said. “We are talking about some of the all-time great players in women’s basketball history — collegiate, USA Basketball and international leagues. To be mentioned in the same breath as those women is pretty incredible.”
Burke, who covered all those players as a women’s basketball analyst, is currently an NBA analyst for ESPN. She calls herself a “women’s basketball fan” these days, but she watched the South Carolina game.
PAIGE BUECKERS 🔥
First player in UConn history with 3 straight 30-point games.
32 PTS (13/20 FG) 7 AST, 5 3PT
30 PTS (12/18 FG) 6 3PTS
31 PTS (14/26 FG) 6 STL, 5 AST@UConnWBB | @paigebueckers1 pic.twitter.com/p4RR0KnHpI— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 9, 2021
“I’m not going there, that she’s better than any of those players. She’s got a long way to go and a lot to prove, as well as she’s played,” Burke said. “It’s been tremendously enjoyable in the limited opportunities I’ve had [to see her].”
But Burke added: “The young woman is clearly special. And special is not always about basketball ability. It has to go beyond that, you have to bring a level of intellect for the game, and a level of grit and mental toughness. And the one thing that stands out about her is the fearlessness and the refusal to accept ‘Oh, I might be struggling tonight.’ That doesn’t enter