Women’s Final Four Fans Embrace Hopkins-Grad Paige Bueckers
Final Four fever has taken over the Twin Cities. Friday morning at the Minneapolis Convention Center, fans took in the sights and sounds of a massive showcase honoring women’s basketball.
“Oh the kids love it,” said Jennifer Watson of Robbinsdale. “My oldest son is big into basketball, so it’s right up our alley.”
Landing a major sporting event like the Women’s Final Four is always a major deal for the area, but when the biggest star of the tournament happens to be a Minnesota native, it gives the local fans something to root for.
“I’m a big Paige Bueckers fan and Azzi Fudd fan,” said Bella Buccinelli of Rosemount. “So I like to watch the UConn games.”
Buccinelli wore a shirt to the fan festival featuring Paige Bueckers, Connecticut’s star player from Hopkins High School. Buccinelli called Bueckers an inspiration.
“She brought a lot of light to women’s sports, so I think it’s pretty cool cause she made it like a big thing,” Buccinelli said.
Bueckers, who is now a sophomore at UConn has become a basketball brand. Experts say she could make more than $1 million in endorsement deals during this new era where college athletes can cash in on their name, image and likeness.
Yet, Bueckers remains humble.
“You don’t want to be the center of attention all the time, and you don’t want to be the person who’s getting all the accolades and all the attention in the media and for the team,” Bueckers said during a Zoom session with reporters this week. “But I think with our team, we’re really selfless. We really don’t care who gets all the attention in the media. We just want to win.”
Come Sunday night, one of the four teams will hold up the NCAA championship trophy. We’ll see if it just so happens to be Minnesota’s hometown hero.