Paige Bueckers Chose UConn Over Being MN’s Caitlin Clark… But Don’t Tell That to the Internet

caitlin clark paige bueckers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I knew nothing something bad might happen if I started watching women’s basketball… and I was 100% wrong. Because I watched the Iowa Hawkeyes vs Connecticut Huskies the other night and it led to a tweet that has reached over 1 million views and counting.

How did I do that, you ask? Well, it all started with an illegal screen set by a lady UConn Huskie, late in the women’s final four matchup mentioned above. Yes it was an illegal screen. An obvious illegal screen. Her legs were still moving and she stuck her elbow out. Obvious offensive foul.

The rest of Minnesota basketball twitter, however, did not agree at the time. Why, you ask? It looks pretty clearn and obvious, right? Why would they refuse to see what was so obvious during a game between Iowa and UConn? Well, because it ruined an opportunity for Hopkins’ own, Paige Bueckers, to hit a last-second game-winning shot.

Bueckers was a high school girls basketball phenom from the 2020 class, ranked as the No. 1 overall recruit in the entire country, at the time. No doubt the type of talent that could have put the Minnesota Gophers women’s basketball program back on the national map all by herself. A talent that, dare I say, could have brought the same type of Caitlin Clark phenom atmosphere to Dinkytown?

Paige Bueckers chose UConn over Minnesota… but don’t say it out loud.

But… that’s not what happened. Bueckers, like most other young basketball phenoms from this state, chose to play elsewhere, UConn, in here case. Shortly thereafter, following 20-wins in five of seven seasons between 2013 and 2019, the University of Minnesota women’s basketball program cratered. Good for her, you might say. Smart move, got out just at the right time, right?

I don’t necessarily disagree. Nonetheless, I used Twitter to remind people that Paige could have tried to do for for Minnesota what Caitlin Clark did for Iowa. Raise it to places it had never been before. Perfectly reasonable take, given the player Bueckers is.

Well… Twitter lost its mind.

Go ahead, dive into that mess… you won’t regret it. And let’s just be clear. I do not think Paige should have based her decision on anything other than what she wanted. This is America, after all. And the best part about living in this country is that you can make choices that are best for you, and feel good about them. Paige is going to be a top-5 draft pick, even after an injury-riddled college career. Things seem to have worked out just fine.

Why would I be a fan of UConn’s Paige Bueckers?

But that freedom works the other way, too. If you’re a Minnesota athlete who chooses to cold-shoulder the Gophers and play your college ball elsewhere, I won’t be cheering for you. Because, believe it or not, my Minnesota sports fandom is not based on former MN high school athletes.

Related: Ben Johnson on Hot Seat? Mark Coyle Angry Gophers Missed NCAA Tournament Again

Not Paige, or Chet Holmgren, Jalen Suggs… the Jones’ brothers from Apple Valley (except while Tyus played for the Wolves, that was fun). Want to know why? Because I am not a UConn fan, or Gonzaga fan, or Duke fan. By some people’s logic, I should be a huge Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball fan, since most of their team is from Lakeville.

But I’m not. I am a Minnesota sports fan ONLY. And if that hurts other Minnesota sports fans’ feelings… I guess they’ll have to get over it? Maybe don’t follow me on Twitter, if it bothers them that much? Because I’m obviously not interested in changing.

Anyway, happy Sunday to everyone except former D1 MN high school athletes who chose to play somewhere other than Dinkytown.

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