Friday, May 24, 2024

THE 30 PLAYERS WHO DEFINED SLAM’S 30 YEARS: Paige Bueckers 


For 3 many years we’ve coated many wonderful basketball characters, however some stand above the remainder—not solely due to their on-court abilities (although these are at all times related), however due to how they influenced and proceed to affect basketball tradition, and thus influenced SLAM. In the meantime, SLAM has additionally modified these gamers’ lives in varied methods, as we’ve documented their careers with traditional covers, legendary images, wonderful tales, compelling movies and extra. 

We compiled a bunch of people (programming observe: 30 entries, not 30 folks whole) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full record right here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this record was initially printed, right here.


Paige Bueckers’ identify is synonymous with greatness. 

Gatorade Participant of the Yr, AP Participant of the Yr, USBWA Participant of the Yr, Naismith Trophy winner, Picket Award winner, Greatest Feminine School Athlete ESPY Award winner—the record may fill this whole web page. 

Her identify is one which the world has turn out to be nicely accustomed to listening to, from her ninth grade phenom days right through to the Insanity of March. 

SLAM has been part of Bueckers’ journey because the summer season earlier than her senior 12 months, when SLAM highschool videographers and photographers would pull as much as her AAU tournaments and be amazed by what they had been witnessing. It continued within the fall of her senior 12 months, when the Minnesota phenom bought her first function in our iconic pages.

Not lengthy after that, we bought to see who Paige was not solely as a hooper however as an individual, by means of WSLAM’s first season of “All Eyes On Us”—a digital video collection that follows a highschool staff by means of a full season—the place Bueckers and the Hopkins Royals had been on a mission to carry residence this system’s first-ever nationwide title. By way of that collection, the world bought to see what our employees noticed each time we sat to talk together with her for an interview: a celebrity. 

She was a hooper with no worry of going for robust buckets who had ruthless handles that dropped defenders nearly each recreation and a passing model so easy that her coaches in contrast her to Magic Johnson.

But in addition, an individual with an aura so particular that she lifted up everybody round her, each on and off the courtroom. We had been together with her when she copped a pair of Jordan XI Breds (a “should have” for sneakerheads, as she put it), and we had been there when she jokingly messed together with her teammates on the bus to away video games.

Then the pandemic shut the world down simply as Paige and her teammates had been within the locker room making ready for his or her state championship recreation, and we witnessed the heartbreak of a possible historic season minimize quick. Within the “All Eyes On Us” season 1 finale, Bueckers was uncooked and emotional about what that season meant to her and her teammates. 

As Paige made historical past in Minnesota that season, she made historical past for SLAM, too, changing into the primary highschool lady to be featured on our cowl (SLAM 226). It appears like I used to be in that health club simply yesterday, watching the long run celebrity step onto the set sporting “Pinnacle” Air Jordan VIs. That day, everybody knew they had been within the presence of greatness.

Her freshman 12 months at UConn put the world on discover as soon as once more, when she received nearly each award potential in NCAA ladies’s hoops, all whereas attempting to recruit her greatest good friend and the highest prospect within the class of 2021, Azzi Fudd. As soon as Azzi locked in her dedication, we linked up with the backcourt duo and shot one other historic cowl, for SLAM 235, the “New World Difficulty,” a themed situation about the best way the hoops world was altering in actual time.

Whereas Bueckers has cemented herself in historical past with all she’s achieved on the NCAA degree, her story is simply starting. Paige is a competitor at coronary heart, and in what might be her closing season in Storrs, she has her sights set on bringing residence a nationwide championship. Bueckers might be eligible for the WNBA draft this spring, and whether or not she decides to go this 12 months or use her final 12 months of faculty eligibility, she’ll ultimately turn out to be the way forward for the W. 

Paige has meant a lot to SLAM due to what we’ve constructed collectively through the years. From iconic covers to months of capturing her closing season in highschool, Paige is a legend within the SLAM halls—and I imply that fairly actually. Her cowl photograph takes up a full wall inside SLAM HQ. She was the beginning of SLAM’s enlargement into women grassroots basketball, and we’ve gotten to witness her journey from the beginning. Whether or not this 12 months or subsequent, Paige will hear her identify referred to as on the WNBA Draft, and as she walks throughout that stage, you higher imagine we’ll already be cooking up an thrilling option to doc the subsequent chapter of her journey. 


Picture by Johnnie Izquierdo.



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