Shout out to these two women’s college basketball student-athletes who recently received some of the biggest college athletics honors.
According to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel: “UConn guard Paige Bueckers and Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith both earned women’s college basketball player of the year honors…Bueckers became the first freshman to win the Naismith Trophy since the award debuted in 1983. Smith, a junior, won the Wade Trophy, the (longest-standing) of the women’s hoops awards, dating to 1978.”
Congrats to both of these student-athletes!
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We’ll start off with Smith and how her season went down to get to this point in receiving this award:
During the 2020-21 season (including March Madness and the Elite Eight game against UConn), Smith averaged 18 points, 8.9 rebounds, had 26 total blocks, 38 total steals, and 36 total assists. She helped her team get to that Elite Eight and they almost advanced to the Final Four after a controversial “no-call” finish to that game per ESPN.
“all praise to the most high .. …,” Smith said in retweeting the news she won the award.
The game previous to that Elite Eight game? Historic for NaLyssa. She didn’t miss!
A student-athlete on the team that pulled off that close win over Baylor, advancing to the Final Four but then losing to Arizona, UConn, also was a player of the year.
And Smith was happy for her, saying “she definitely deserve(s) this” on Twitter, retweeting the video where Bueckers found out she won the award.
Here’s how Bueckers fared this season and what led to her winning the award:
Bueckers averaged 20 points a game in the 2020-21 season (including through the Final Four game against Arizona), averaged 4.9 rebounds a game, had 66 total steals, and 168 total assists.
She’s also a part of history as she’s the only freshman to receive this prestigious award, according to UConn Women’s Basketball.
Both of these student-athlete’s individual play helped them in March Madness get to the Elite Eight (with UConn barely beating Baylor and advancing to the Final Four then losing to Arizona). The women’s national championship will feature Stanford and Arizona.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
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