Former UConn and WNBA star Diana Taurasi has high praise for Paige Bueckers ahead of the Huskies standout freshman guard's showdown with fellow first-year star Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the women's Sweet 16.
Taurasi, who played at UConn from 2000 to 2004, said Bueckers is a special player.
"The first game I watched her play, I watched the first quarter, I told Penny and then gave a text to Coach Auriemma after the basketball game and said she's the best player in basketball already for the simple fact that she can pass," Taurasi told TOGETHXR in a video.
"She makes really hard passes look really easy and she makes really easy passes look easy. That alone sets her apart, that alone sets her apart from every other player in college."
Bueckers leads the No. 1 team in the nation by averaging 19.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds, while shooting 54% from the field and 47% from three-point range. Back in February, Bueckers recorded three consecutive games of 30 points or more—a feat that had never previously been done at UConn.
Bueckers was the only freshman named to the Wooden Award national ballot list. She is just the third freshman ever to be named an AP First Team All-American, joining the likes of UConn legend Maya Moore (2008) and Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris (2006).
No freshman has ever won the Wade Trophy, Naismith College Player of the Year, Associated Press Women's College Basketball Player of the Year or John R. Wooden honors.
Taurasi believes Bueckers is years ahead of where she was a college athlete.
"Freshman Paige has way more confidence than I did," Taurasi said. "I was in the dog house. I was like the water girl doing chores for the seniors. We were in way different boats. I really wasn't on the team really until everyone got hurt. ... The level she is playing at right now as a freshman—it is incredible. You don't play that efficiently and with that much confidence as a rookie—as a freshman—at Connecticut."
UConn and Iowa play at noon on Saturday.