MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — You watch Paige Bueckers evolve, you watch Hopkins High School’s girls’ varsity basketball team win, and you are watching a process that is built on precision.
Suddenly, Bueckers is in her senior year. Opposing coaches might disagree, but he successful career has seemed to have flown by.
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s been hard for me to realize that this is my last year. I’ve been playing at Hopkins since seventh grade, and playing varsity since eighth grade,” Bueckers said.
What is defining about that career is not measured in scoring. It’s measured in wins. And it’s measured by an insatiable desire to be a complete player, which means finding the open person all the time.
“Paige is extremely gifted. She sees the floor, she makes everyone around her better, and she’s just fun to be around on a daily basis,” said Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff. “She’s humble, yet she’s sure of herself.”
She can shoot it, too. She spends hours doing just that. Bueckers is a driven gym rat whose home is a basketball court.
“It’s like my safe home. I can always go to it,” Bueckers said. “Nothing else matters when I’m in the gym, really.”
All that work led her to coach Geno Auriemma and the University of Connecticut Huskies. She will play for a program that, like Hopkins, expects to win and expects players to perform. It is where she hopes she can develop into a WNBA guard.
“I mean, it’s always been my dream school, and I love their program, and I love their coaches, and I love the way they do things,” Bueckers said. “It’s such like a professional program, and that’s all I aspire to be is a professional.”
She has been honored as a national athlete of the year, and she seems built for that national stage. It is because she has grown into it, and by competing hard at a high level, and by playing in big games, and by coming through when the team is in need.
“Winning’s everything. That’s why I play game. I don’t ever get caught up in the individual accolades,” she said.
They have done their fair share of winning at Hopkins, and Bueckers has been in the middle of it. They are expected to win state championships, and in some ways, that’s why she is where she is.
“It’s crazy just to be a part of this program because greatness is expected,” Bueckers said. “Other programs, when they win state, it’s like, ‘Wow! Really good job!’ For Hopkins, it’s to be expected. I mean, it’s the state championship or bust, so. It’s really hard to play at this program, but it’s the best way to prepare yourself for the future.”