Minnesota is loaded with big-time high school basketball recruits, but none are more decorated than Hopkins senior Paige Bueckers, who on Monday was named the 2019 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.
The award puts Bueckers' name alongside some of the greatest female basketball players of all time to have won the award, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Lisa Leslie, Seimone Augustus, Breanna Stewart and Katie Smith, among many other WNBA greats.
Bueckers led Hopkins to a 32-0 undefeated season and Class 4A championship in Minnesota last year, and she scored 20 points to help the Royals improve to 7-0 this season with a 93-48 victory over last year's Class 3A champion, DeLaSalle, on Tuesday night.
Bueckers led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, her fourth gold medal as a member of USA Basketball.
“It means a lot,” Bueckers said in a release. “When Carol (Callan) called me and told me, I was kind of amazed, seeing all of the people who have won it before. Me being one of the youngest to get it, it just means a lot to me. To be able to represent my country, alone, and then to get this award, it meant even more.”
USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said Bueckers "represented the best of USA Basketball."
Her Team USA coach, Jeff Walz, called Bueckers a "special talent."
"She is able to score in all three phases of the game," said Walz. "She hits 3s, has a pull-up jump shot and can get to the rim. But, I just appreciate how she competes. She definitely has that competitive fire within her.”
Bueckers has committed to the University of Connecticut.