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Paige Bueckers wins Big East Player of Year for second time; UConn women dominate awards

Paige Bueckers joined an elite club on Thursday, becoming just the fifth UConn women’s basketball player to win Big East Player of the Year multiple times, alongside Kerry Bascom, Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore.

UConn dominated the 2023-24 Big East awards, with Ashlynn Shade winning Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year honors for Geno Auriemma. Four Huskies were also named to the All-Big East teams, headlined by Bueckers and All-American forward Aaliyah Edwards as unanimous first-team selections.

The conference announced its regular-season awards ahead of the Big East Tournament, which begins Friday with 8-seed Butler against 9-seed Providence at Mohegan Sun Arena. UConn, the top seed, will play the winner of that game in the quarterfinals on Saturday (noon, FS1).

Bueckers was named Player of the Year in her first complete season since winning the same award as a freshman in 2021, making a triumphant comeback in 2023-24 after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. She is averaging a career-best 20.7 points per game plus 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.1 blocks. Even playing out of position amid a slew of major injuries on the roster, Bueckers is one of the most efficient guards in the nation shooting 54% from the field.

Edwards was named to the All-Big East first team for the second year in a row to cap the best regular season of her career. The star forward is averaging 17.9 points and a team-leading 9.5 rebounds, and she logged nine of her 16 double-doubles over the Huskies’ final 12 games. Fellow senior Nika Muhl earned second-team All-Big East honors, and Shade got an honorable mention nod.

Shade edged out teammate KK Arnold to win Freshman of the Year, though Arnold still landed on the Big East All-Freshman team. Shade was named the conference’s Freshman of the Week five times and is UConn’s No. 3 scorer averaging 11.2 points per game plus 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists. She shoots 49.3% from the field and has logged three performances of 20-plus points in 25 starts.

Despite losing five players to season-ending injuries including star Azzi Fudd, Auriemma led UConn to its first undefeated Big East record since 2020-21 and the 11th of his career. He earned his 12th career Big East Coach of the Year recognition, also his first since 2020-21. Auriemma now has 18 total conference coach of the year honors thanks to six awards in seven seasons in the American Athletic Conference from 2014-2020.

Auriemma won his 1,202th career game this season to surpass Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski as the second-winningest coach in college basketball history. He trails only Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer, who broke Krzyzewski’s record just weeks before Auriemma.

Big East regular-season awards

Player of the Year: Paige Bueckers, UConn

Freshman of the Year: Ashlynn Shade, UConn

Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Christina Dalce, Villanova; Kelsey Ransom, Georgetown

Most Improved Player: Lucy Olsen, Villanova

Sixth Player of the Year: Brianna Scott, Georgetown

Coach of the Year: Geno Auriemma, UConn

All-Big East first team

Paige Bueckers, UConn

Aaliyah Edwards, UConn

Lauren Jensen, Creighton

Morgan Maly, Creighton

Emma Ronsiek, Creighton

Kelsey Ransom, Georgetown

Liza Karlen, Marquette

Unique Drake, St. John’s

Azana Baines, Seton Hall

Lucy Olsen, Villanova

All-Big East second team

Caroline Strande, Butler

Nika Mühl, UConn

Anaya Peoples

Jordan King, Marquette

Olivia Olsen, Providence

All-Big East Honorable Mention

Ashlynn Shade, UConn

Mackenzie Hare, Marquette

Jillian Archer, St. John’s

Christina Dalce, Villanova

Big East All-Freshman team

Riley Makalusky, Butler

KK Arnold, UConn

Ashlynn Shade, UConn

Savannah Catalon, Seton Hall

Maddie Webber, Villanova

Aizhanique Mayo, Xavier