No. 1 women's basketball prospect Paige Bueckers arrived at her high school at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning prepared for a video shoot.
"It's been a surreal and unreal morning," said Bueckers, who became the sixth UConn signee in the past 10 seasons to be named national player of the year. "I'm still trying to process it."
Bueckers, a 5-foot-11 guard for Hopkins High School in Minnesota, was surprised by Towns, who not only won the award in 2014, but also attended Hopkins' 86-76 win over Wayzata on Thursday with fellow teammates D'Angelo Russell, James Johnson and Josh Okogie.
"It feels like I'd gotten the award a day ago, and now I'm over here giving it to the next generation," Towns said.
When Towns won the award in 2014, Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning surprised him, except Towns at the time "thought it was just a cool substitute teacher." Bueckers was completely shocked.
"It was awesome to see that reaction because it was much better than my reaction," Towns said.
Bueckers has averaged 21.8 points, 9.3 assists, 5.3 steals and 5.1 rebounds for undefeated Hopkins, which is No. 1 in the espnW 25 Power Rankings and plays in the Minnesota state quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Bueckers' play has drawn comparisons to some elite women's basketball players. When Towns saw Bueckers drop 33 points on Thursday, he said her game reminded him of Diana Taurasi, a comparison UConn coach Geno Auriemma made when he spoke with ESPN's Katie Barnes for a profile about Bueckers.
"She has Dee's game," Auriemma told Barnes. "She has all the stuff that goes along with Dee. ... She's as good as anybody I've seen with the ball in her hands. She has something that's rare."
Bueckers, who will participate in both the McDonald's All American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, arrives in Storrs in the fall, is the eighth Husky recruit to win the award, joining Tina Charles (2006), Maya Moore (2007), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2011), Breanna Stewart (2012), Katie Lou Samuelson (2015), Megan Walker (2017) and Christyn Williams (2018).
"It goes to show how great the UConn program is," Bueckers said. "It shows how great Coach Geno recruits and just the legacy that they've made there."
One of the first people Bueckers told was her friend Azzi Fudd, the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2021 who won last year's award as a sophomore.
"I was so happy for her last year when she won even though we were competing against each other," Bueckers said, "and I know she's happy for me."
Fudd is still uncommitted, but Bueckers has tried to sell her on joining her in Storrs. And she hopes the award helps.
"Hopefully it can be four UConn commits in a row if I can get Azzi to come," Bueckers said.