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UConn’s Paige Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards make Naismith midseason team

UConn women’s basketball seniors Paige Bueckers and Aaliyah Edwards were among 30 players selected to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team, keeping them in the running for the National Player of the Year award.

Bueckers won the Naismith Trophy as a freshman in 2021 and has shown few signs of rust in her first season back after an ACL tear in August 2022. She is spending most of her minutes out of position to help replace five players with season-ending injuries, but Bueckers remains one of the most efficient guards in the country.

The Huskies superstar averages 20 points shooting 53.7% from the field, and she ranks No. 12 nationally hitting 44.2% from 3-point range. Bueckers also leads No. 15 UConn (20-5) in blocks with 1.1 per game, and she is second in rebounds averaging 4.5.

Edwards earned third-team All-American honors in 2023 and was named the Big East’s Most Improved Player. She has continued her meteoric rise this season, averaging a career-best 18.9 points and nine rebounds to lead the Huskies in both stats, plus 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals.

Edwards’s 60.3% field goal percentage ranks in the top 15 nationally, as do her 12 double-doubles. She has recorded a double-double in five of UConn’s last six games, headlined by a career-high 33 points and 13 rebounds in a win over St. John’s on Feb. 4. Against ranked teams, Edwards averages 17.2 points and 8.8 rebounds.

UConn’s stars are the only Big East representatives on the midseason team, and the Huskies are one of seven teams with multiple players selected. No. 9 UCLA, which beat UConn 78-67 on Nov. 24, is the only program to land three on the team: Forward Lauren Betts and guards Kiki Rice and Charisma Osborne. UConn has faced four other players on the list, including NC State’s Saniya Rivers, Texas freshman Madison Booker, Notre Dame freshman Hannah Hidalgo and South Carolina’s Te-Hina Paopao.

The Naismith Trophy will narrow the list of candidates to 15 on its late season team, which is released Feb. 21. Ten semi-finalists are announced March 14 before the NCAA Tournament begins and cut to four finalists after the second round on March 26. The National Player of the Year is announced at the Final Four in Cleveland on April 3.

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