Paige Bueckers is already Caitlin Clark’s heir in the NCAA: When normality is the best virtue

There is a huge vacuum in women’s college basketball with the departures of Clark, Angel Reese and Cameron Brink.

Paige Bueckers.

Some of the finest talent ever spotted in the NCAA Women’s Division I championships have all headed for pastures new as they graduate to the WNBA, giving the chance for a breakout star to emerge in 2024/25 and here’s why that will be Paige Bueckers of the UConn Huskies.

The youngster is affectionately dubbed ‘Paige Buckets’ and during her senior year of high school she had been named Gatorade Player of the Year twice whilst averaging 21.4 points per game and 9.2 assists per game.

She was considered the number one recruit out of high school basketball, ahead of famous now-professional stars such as Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink and Kamilla Cardoso and she seemed set to prove that prophecy right in her debut NCAA year.

As a freshman she took to the Huskies like a duck to water, or husky to snow, and led them with 581 points, 166 assists, 66 steals and a three-point field goal percentage of 46.4%, becoming the first freshman to win the Wooden Award before claiming the Naismith Trophy, 2021 espnW Player and Freshman of the Year, the 2021 AP Player of the Year, the 2021 WBCA Freshman of the Year, and the 2021 Big East Player to name a few.

Bueckers’ elite mentality shines through injury

Despite her success, her sophomore and junior years took significant downturns that saw her fall behind her peers in the development curve as she missed 19 games with a fracture and then a meniscus tear, both serious injuries.

But she returned late and helped her Huskies side reach the final of the 2022 NCAA Tournament with 14 points and six rebounds as they sadly lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The good news was that Bueckers was back, but that didn’t last for long as in August that same year she tore her ACL and missed the whole junior year. With repeated setbacks, it would be easy for her to give up and pursue a different career, but she is determined to return and she did so in 2023/24, showcasing incredible mental fortitude.

She picked up straight where she left off, starting 39 games and leading the team with 21.9 points per game, finally hitting 1000 points to tie with Maya Moore as the fastest player to do so.

Her return season, effectively her second in the NCAA, was so good that she was named he most outstanding player of the 2024 Big East Tournament, the Big East Player of the Year, and the Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

That is why she’s set to inherit the crown as Queen of the Castle in the NCAA in the power vacuum left by the Iowa Hawkeyes’ Caitlin Clark.


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