This is what we’re going to be mad about today, Big Blue Nation.
Madison Lilley, a senior who led the Kentucky Volleyball program to its first-ever national championship this past season while taking home every Player of the Year award under the sun, was robbed of an ESPY on Saturday night. And who was the person who beat her out for Best Women’s College Athlete? A freshman from UConn, of course: Paige Bueckers, who did not lead the Huskies to a national championship.
— ESPN (@espn) July 11, 2021
Bueckers had a stellar season for UConn as a first-year hooper, but it’s tough to not see through the bias here. She won the award over Lilley, who objectively had a more impressive season, along with Jaelin Howell (Florida State soccer) and Odicci Alexander (James Madison softball). Alexander was the Pitcher of the Year and D1 Softball Woman of the Year for James Madison, helping lead her team to an unexpected run in the College World Series.
You’re gonna have a tough time convincing me that Bueckers deserved the award over Lilley or Alexander. In all honesty, Bueckers might not have even been the best option from her own sport–Arizona’s Aari McDonald was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and led the Wildcats to the program’s first-ever national title game. She was drafted third overall in the 2021 WNBA Draft.
Bueckers had an incredible rookie campaign with UConn, but I’m gonna chalk this win up to some of that national bias and overall love for the Huskies. Lilley was robbed.
[CORRECTION: A previous edition of this article stated that Bueckers did not win a National Player of the Year Award, which is incorrect. It has been updated.]