8 Things to Know About UConn Basketball Star Paige Bueckers Right Now

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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During this year’s March Madness tournament, she seems injury-free and focused on the good stuff. “I’m just trying to have fun,” Bueckers told the Big East Conference. “Last year I missed this opportunity, and I really want to embrace it and remember why I’m playing and the joy that I play with. I always play better when I’m happy.”

3. She was once teammates with Caitlin Clark.

While the Final Four is going to be a showdown between the two powerhouses, they weren’t always rivals: Bueckers and Clark were actually teammates for a brief time a few years ago. They both played for Team USA in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup—and won gold. In fact, Bueckers was even named MVP of the tournament, in part due to her role helping her team win in the overtime final.

“Since I’ve known her, since she was in middle school, she’s always worked that same way, she’s always had that fire, she’s always been a great leader, and I really honestly couldn’t be happier for her and the year she’s had,” Clark told SNY going into the Final Four.

4. Bueckers uses her platform for advocacy.

After winning the ESPY for Best Women’s College Athlete in 2021, Bueckers used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to advocate for Black athletes. “As a white woman who leads a Black-led sport,” she said on stage, “I want to shed a light on Black women. They don’t get the media coverage they deserve. They’ve given so much to this sport, the community, and society as a whole, and their value is undeniable.”

Bueckers also uses her social media platforms to draw attention to racism, police brutality, and social injustice. It’s personal for Bueckers, whose younger brother Drew is Black. She captioned a carousel of photos of Drew promising, “I’m going to work for change, little brother. I want you to grow up in a world that accepts you for who you are.”

5. She applied to trademark the nickname “Paige Buckets.”

Bueckers must have seen an opportunity when the NCAA began allowing student-athletes to make money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) in 2021. According to Sports Illustrated, she applied to trademark the term “Paige Buckets” to sell merch tagged with her apt nickname (namely “shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms,” according to the trademark application). It looks like the trademark has since been abandoned, but now that UConn is back in the Final Four for a record 23rd time, it may be time to revive the plan so Bueckers’s fans can get some serious swag.

6. And she already has some pretty sweet sponsors and partnerships.

Bueckers has more than 2.2 million followers across Instagram and TikTok combined, and she may be among the highest-paid college athletes. In 2022, Sports Illustrated estimated that she made $824,000 in the first 18 months after the NIL rules went into effect. She’s partnered with several noteworthy brands, including CVS, Dunkin’, and even the US Army. She’s also sponsored by Gatorade and Nike.

7. She’s super close with her teammates.

Bueckers is all about her teammates, on and off the court. In a post-game press conference with media on March 11, when asked about teammate Nika Muhl’s hope to break the school assist record (which she’s since done), Bueckers said she was “mad” about missing an opportunity to help Muhl reach her 500th in a recent game. Bueckers then became emotional thinking about ending their time playing together: “This is my sister. My twin,” she said.

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