Paige Bueckers is driven to be the best, whether it be as an individual or as part of a team, on the basketball court or academically in the classroom.
Bueckers was the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year for a third consecutive season and the winner of the 2020 Miss Minnesota Basketball Award, presented to the state's top senior girls' player. She was named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year. She also won Hopkins High's Athena Award, presented to the school's outstanding female senior student-athlete.
On top of all that, Bueckers is the Star Tribune All-Metro Female Athlete of the Year. She is headed to the University of Connecticut.
"Paige is very smart, very astute," Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff said. "I'm also absolutely convinced that if Paige was in college right now that she would be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft. She is that good."
A starter since eighth grade for Hopkins, the 6-foot guard concluded her career as the program's all-time leader in points (2,877), assists (795) and steals (574).
"Coach Coz took me in when I was younger and put me under his wing," Bueckers said. "Playing as an eighth-grader gave me a lot of confidence. That was the tipping point of my career."
She led the Royals to five consecutive Class 4A state championship games. They won the title in 2019 after three straight runner-up finishes.
"No other player has taken their team to five consecutive state championship games in Class 4A," Cosgriff said.
The Royals were on the verge of back-to-back unbeaten championship seasons when the state tournament was canceled before the finals because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the title game, they were scheduled to face Farmington, which they had defeated 77-52 earlier in the season.
"The special thing about our team this year was that I enjoyed every second of it, every minute of it," Bueckers said. "I enjoyed all of it. Our team was like a family, we are all sisters. I love every single one of them."
Bueckers left with Hopkins on a 62-game winning streak, second longest in state history. Fosston won 78 consecutive games from Dec. 21, 1999, through March 7, 2002.
"I always want to win at everything I do," Bueckers said. "Being competitive is who I am. It's one of my traits."
She carries plenty of pride off the court as well.
The five-year academic all-state selection served as a student teacher/classroom assistant for sixth-graders. She has volunteered to read to children in the Hopkins and Minneapolis libraries during youth story time and works as a counselor/coach at basketball camps. She started Buckets With Bueckers, a nonprofit organization created to support local youth and sports.
"I take a lot of pride in what I do in the classroom and off the court," Bueckers said. "That is a huge part of who I am."
And will continue to be in college.
"It's a new world I'm stepping into, playing college basketball," Bueckers said. "I'm looking forward to the next chapter."