Posted On: 08/28/19 7:26 PM
I can’t imagine any other scenario in which a player who doesn’t participate during the all-important July viewing period could win the Prep Girls Hoops AAU Player of the Year Award. Then again, I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing another player like Paige Bueckers any time soon – if ever. When it comes to Paige, everything once considered ‘normal’ simply doesn’t apply. As I see it the Hopkins senior and Minnesota Metro Stars standout is simply the best player of her age, and not just in Minnesota or the United States for that matter. As her performance at the FIBA U19 World Cup in July made clear, Paige is currently the best high school senior in the world.
The 5’11 guard led Team USA to a dramatic 74-70 overtime defeat of Australia in the championship game in Bangkok, Thailand, collecting 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. She made multiple key plays down the stretch, including one of the finest long-bomb in-bounds passes you will ever see. It was typical of how the UCONN commit played throughout the event.
“It was really tough,” Bueckers said afterwards. “That was one of the craziest games I’ve ever played in. Australia’s a really good team and they played us really well. We came so far and worked out with each other for almost a month and we didn’t want to come up short.”
Paige was one of two Americans named to the All-tournament Team and was also the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She joined an impressive list of former USA U19 MVPs, which includes Crystal Langhorne (2005), Nneka Ogwumike (2009), Breanna Stewart (2013) and A’Ja Wilson (2015). Not bad company is it? “It’s kind of crazy to think about being surrounded by those names,” Bueckers said. “They did so much in college and the pros, which is where I want to end up, so I just have to keep working.”
Paige’s AAU career came to an end on June 16th at Summer Jam, leaving us with a long list of memories to savor and leaving the door open for someone else to earn Player of the Year honors in 2020. That will no doubt be a more difficult selection than this.
If you have been following along with all of our AAU Awards articles this month then you have seen our All Star selections from classes 2023-2020. Therefore none of the honorable mentions listed here will come as a surprise. Regardless, here they are.
Class of 2020
Alyssa Ustby – Fury 2020 UAA (Rochester Lourdes)
Lauren Jensen – North Tartan 2020 EYBL (Lakeville North/Iowa)
Molly Mogensen – Fury 2020 UAA (Farmington/Creighton)
Class of 2021
Sophie Hart – Fury 2021 UAA (Farmington)
Jenna Johnson – North Tartan 2021 EYBL (Wayzata)
Katie Borowicz – Stars 2021 Hersch (Roseau)
Class of 2022
Mallory Heyer – Fury 2022 UAA (Chaska)
Nia Holloway – DTA Academy (Eden Prairie)
Amaya Battle – North Tartan 9th Elite (Hopkins)
Class of 2023
Taylor Woodson – North Tartan 9th Elite (Hopkins)
Kennedy Sanders – Fury 2023 UAA (Chaska)
Molly Lenz – Fury 2023 UAA (Eden Prairie)