MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota native and UConn freshman, Paige Bueckers was named winner of the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Saturday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious individual basketball honor presented annually to college basketball’s most outstanding player. Iowa senior Luka Garza also received the award Saturday in the men’s category.READ MORE: Eli Hart’s Former Foster Mom Remembers 'An Amazing Kid'
Bueckers also won the 2020 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year Trophy, making her the first freshman in the 39-year history of the women’s collegiate award to receive it. She is also just the fourth first-year player ever, following men’s winners Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson.
“I feel incredibly blessed to receive the Naismith Trophy. It was an honor to receive the high school award last season, and truly, it’s surreal to receive the collegiate award this year,” said Bueckers.
Garza, a Naismith Trophy finalist in 2020 and now the 53rd winner of the award, becomes the first Hawkeye to win the Naismith Trophy on the men’s side.
The winners were announced live on Saturday on CBS Sports Network by Barry Goheen, Atlanta Tipoff Club chairman. Bueckers and Garza are set to be honored on their own campuses this spring and presented with their respective trophies.
In a recent statement Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, said both players dominated on their courts throughout the season.READ MORE: Next Weather: Slightly Warmer Start To The Work Week
“Luka just concluded a remarkable college career and had tremendous expectations to live up to all season long, and while Paige is just beginning her college run, she had similar acclaim given her incredible high school achievements,” said Oberman. “The common denominator is that both displayed complete dominance on the court throughout the course of an incredibly challenging basketball season, and for that, we’re honored to recognize them as the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy winners.”
Bueckers responded to the announcement by assuring fans that this season’s achievements were made possible through teamwork.
“My teammates and coaches are the reason I had any individual success this year, so thank you to them for being by my side all season. There are so many talented players who are deserving of this award, like Aliyah, Dana and Rhyne, so it’s humbling to receive it,” said Bueckers.
Bueckers became the second BIG EAST player to win both the Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year awards, following former Husky Maya Moore in 2008.
Bueckers had the highest single-game scoring total by a UConn freshman since 2007 with 32 points. The freshman forward was also the first player in program history to have three straight 30-point games leading UConn to both regular season and tournament championships in the BIG EAST. Bueckers is now the 7th Husky to win the women’s Naismith Trophy, making it the 11th total win for UConn.MORE NEWS: Sen. Klobuchar Pushing To Help Modernize Minnesota National Guard's Fleet
Bueckers and Garza were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading media members from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners. The academy based its selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2020-21 college basketball season. Additionally, fans had the opportunity to cast a ballot through naismithfanvote.com and on the @NaismithTrophy and NCAA @MarchMadness Twitter pages. The Naismith fan vote accounted for 5% of the overall vote.