Paige Bueckers, from UConn, won the award John R. Wooden on Monday, becoming the first freshman to receive the distinction, which is awarded annually to the best female college basketball player in the country.
The point guard had one of the best rookie seasons in UConn history, leading the Huskies in points (20), assists (5.8) and steals (2.3) per game in 2020-21. He also averaged 4.9 rebounds, shot 52.4% from the field, 46.4% from the triple and 86.9% from free throws.
“It’s a blessing. It means everything to me, but it’s a true testament to our entire team and everything they have done for me,” Bueckers said. “The coaching staff, for putting me in this position, I am extremely grateful,” he added.
Bueckers is only the second freshman to win the Wooden Award, which was first presented in women’s college basketball in 2003-04. UConn’s Maya Moore won the first of two Wooden Awards in her sophomore year in 2009. Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu was a consecutive winner of the Wooden Award the past two seasons.
Like Ionescu and Moore, LSU’s Seimone Augustus, Tennessee’s Candace Parker, Baylor’s Brittney Griner, and UConn’s Breanna Stewart also won the Wooden Award twice.
Also this season, Bueckers won the Associated Press and ESPN.com Player of the Year honors. On Saturday, she became the first rookie to win the Naismith Trophy since the award debuted in 1983, and was also named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America team.
UConn reached its thirteenth consecutive Final Four, but fell to Arizona in the semifinals.