UConn Huskies' Paige Bueckers tops AP's preseason All-America team

Paige Bueckers was a pioneer as a freshman, and she is ready for a great sophomore season.
The Huskies' sensational guard from UConn was the latest to be recognized as a preseason Associated Press All-American. The 29-member national media panel, which selects each week's AP Top 25, unanimously selected her.

Bueckers was joined by Caitlin Clark, a sophomore from Iowa, junior Aliyah Boo of South Carolina, and senior NaLyssa and Rhyne Smith, both of Baylor, on the five-player team. Howard and Boston were part of the preseason team last season.

Bueckers was the first freshman to win AP's Player Of The Year award in March, when she helped UConn reach Final Four. Last season, she averaged 20 points and 5.8 assists. She also had 4.9 rebounds.

Geno Auriemma, UConn coach, said that "Paige's Paige" Paige is better than she was last season. Paige is more at ease than she was last. Paige isn't as nervous to take shots this year as she was last.

Clark is the first Iowan to be recognized as a preseason All-American. Bueckers is not the only Huskies great. Clark averaged 26.6 points per game, which was an NCAA record. She also had seven assists and six rebounds. Clark is a major reason why the Hawkeyes rank ninth in preseason, their highest ranking since 1996.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder stated, "I'm really pleased for Caitlin being recognized as one of top basketball players in America." "I'm excited for her to go on her journey, as her passion for learning and improving has never wavered."

South Carolina is back in Boston, and it's in a familiar spot: No. For the second year in a row, she is No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25. Last year, she averaged 13.7 points, 11.5 rebound, and 2.6 blocks to help the Gamecocks reach Final Four.

Dawn Staley, South Carolina coach, said that Aliyah Boston was one of those high-ranking recruits who came in as an excellent player and set her mind to be a great player. She has been committed to the game like a professional, adding layers each year. Last season's mid-range and 3-point shots were her best, and she will use the changes in her body this season to improve her footwork, agility, and balance.

Howard spent much of the offseason strengthening her body and getting fit. Last year, Howard averaged 20.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. She also had 3.8 assists.

Kyra Elzy, Kentucky coach, said Howard is in "the best shape of her whole life." She has taken a commitment to the weight room during this offseason, and her fitness has increased to a new level.

She said, "I am so proud about her because she has assumed a vocal leadership position with this team and it's starting to show."

Smith continues to improve her game under Nicki Collen, the new Baylor coach. Smith averaged 18.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season. She also shot 56% from behind the arc.

Collen, who will take over for Kim Mulkey the Big 12 powerhouse, said that Collen displays a fearlessness in her playing. She's not afraid to be in the spotlight. She's someone I believe she is.

All five of the players were recognized last spring by the AP All-America team. Clark was on the second team, while Clark was on the first.

Before 1994-95, the AP began selecting a preseason All-America squad.

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