Paige Bueckers scored 23 points to help lead the Hopkins Royals to a return trip to the state tournament on Thursday, and on Friday morning she woke up to news that she's been named a finalist for the Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year award.
Bueckers, a 6-foot junior guard, is one of three finalists for the award, joining Haley Jones of San Jose, California, and Azzi Fudd of Washington, D.C.
The winner of the national award, which recognizes athletic and academic successes, will be announced next week.
Past winners include the likes of Maya Moore, Katie Smith, Lisa Leslie and Diana Taurasi, four of the biggest names in WNBA history. Moore and Smith played for the Lynx, and Moore could return to the Lynx again although she's sitting out the upcoming season to focus on ministry.
“If you went into a laboratory and made a basketball player, Paige Bueckers would be the result,” Edina head coach Matt Nilsen said in the release. "She went over 2,000 career points, but what separates her from most scorers is her court vision and her passing. Her decision-making ability is extraordinarily fast, unlike anything I’ve seen.”
The star player also has an impressive 3.78 GPA and helps run her own youth basketball clinics.
Hopkins is 29-0 this season and will participate in the state tournament next week.
The Royals have been in the state championship game each of the past four years. They won the title in 2015 but lost to Minnetonka, Elk River and Eastview, respectively, the last three years.