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Something special from the get-go: Paige Bueckers, Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year

By Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune, 03/09/20, 6:00PM CDT


The UConn-bound Hopkins star, on the verge of a second undefeated season and state title, is the first three-time winner of the award.

Paige Bueckers of Hopkins is the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year 2020. She is the first to win the award three times. Photos: CARLOS GONZALEZ ¥ cgonzalez@startribune.com

The national stories are coming faster than ever: SLAM Magazine Online, Bleacher Report, ESPN and so on. Her Instagram page scoops up followers by the ladle-full, now up to more than 388,000. She’s been repeatedly labeled “the best player in high school hoops” or some variation on that theme. NBA players use down time to attend her games.

These are heady times for Paige Bueckers. Her slick handles, assassin’s mentality and ability to turn a mundane basketball play into an eye-catching, did-you-see-that moment has made her the “It” girl in the prep basketball world.

Much is expected of her. Signed with women’s basketball blue-blood UConn, Bueckers has already been tabbed by Huskies legendary coach Geno Auriemma as the next Diana Taurasi, the star guard who led them to three consecutive NCAA championships in the early 2000s. He believes Bueckers is the player who can restore UConn to its position of dominance.

She’s already led Team USA to a World Championship and will be a shoo-in to make any international team that invites her.

Honors and accolades are stacking up: USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, McDonald’s All-American, Gatorade National Player of the Year, with more expected.

And now, Bueckers is the first three-time Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.

Paige Bueckers gave her coach Brian Cosgriff a hug after leaving the game against Minnetonka on Feb. 21 at the Lindbergh Center in Minnetonka. Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES • liz.flores@startribune.com

'Paige Buckets' at a glance

(Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Team: Hopkins
Position: Guard
Height: 6-0
Nickname: “Paige Buckets”
College: UConn
Career points: 2,798
2019-20 averages: 21.8 pts, 5.1 rebounds, 9.4 assists, 5.4 steals
Favorite jersey she’s worn: “Hopkins. And Team USA.”

Past Star Tribune Metro Players of the Year

2019: Paige Bueckers, Hopkins
2018 Bueckers
2017 Gabi Haack, Elk River
2016 Taylor Koenen, Shakopee
2015 Madison Guebert, Eastview
2014 Chase Coley, Minneapolis Washburn
2013 Nia Coffey, Hopkins
2012 Marissa Janning, Watertown-Mayer
2011 Rachel Banham, Lakeville North
2010 Cassie Rochel, Lakeville North
          Banham, Lakeville North
2009 Tayler Hill, Minneapolis South
2008 Hill, Minneapolis South
2007 Angel Robinson, St. Paul Central
2006 Jenna Smith, Bloomington Kennedy
2005 Ashley Ellis-Milan, St. Paul Central
2004 Leslie Knight, Hopkins
2003 Liz Podominick, Lakeville
          Jamie Broback, Eastview
2002 Podominick, Lakeville
2001 April Calhoun, Armstrong
1999 Mauri Horton, Minneapolis North
1998 Tamara Moore, Minneapolis North
1997 Carolyn Moos, Blake
1996 Moos, Blake
1995 Sally Albers, Apple Valley
          Linda Shudlick, Apple Valley
1994 Kay Schmidt, Bloomington Kennedy
1993 Tracy Henderson, Minneapolis Henry
1992 Cheri Stafford, Blaine
1991 Shannon Loeblein, St. Paul Harding
1990 Loeblein, St. Paul Harding
1989 Stacy Carver, Buffalo
1988 Margaret Nowlin, Cretin-Derham Hall
1987 Mya Whitmore, Hill-Murray
1986 Jennifer Hall, Burnsville
1985 Janet Cobbs, Concordia Academy

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