STORRS, Conn. – The UConn women’s basketball program announced devastating news on Wednesday that will undoubtedly change the course of the 2022-23 season.
Superstar guard Paige Bueckers suffered a torn ACL in her left knee during a pickup basketball game on Monday. According to a press release from the team, she will be out next season.
Bueckers, the former Hopkins High phenomenon, underwent an MRI Monday night to confirm the injury. She will have surgery Friday at UConn Health. An update on the timeline for her recovery will be shared after the procedure.
“We are all heartbroken at Paige,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this season, and this is an unfortunate setback. Paige is clearly a great basketball player, but she’s a better person and teammate and it’s a real shame this happened to her.”
“We will miss her presence on the pitch, but she will do everything she can to continue to lead and help her teammates this season. Our program will support Paige in her healing process to help her come back better and stronger.”
The news is a huge blow to the Huskies, who suffered injuries and COVID-19 problems for almost the entire roster last season. That included Bueckers, who missed 19 games after an anterior tibial plateau fracture and a lateral meniscus tear in the same left knee. She had surgery on December 13, but returned to action on February 25, leading the Huskies to the Final Four in Minneapolis; they lost in the South Carolina championship game.
She still led the team with an average of 14.6 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Bueckers had committed to stay at Storrs for the summer to get stronger to avoid injury.
“It’s crazy because you’re working so hard to get healthy again, you feel stronger than ever, and you’re playing your best basketball and with one sudden move everything shifts,” Bueckers posted on Instagram. “It’s hard to understand it all now, but I can’t help but think God is using me as a testimony about how much you can overcome with Him by your side. A little kid who just tore his ACL or a big operation may need this story P because it will be a great comeback.
“There will be good days and there will be bad days, but my absolute love for the game and divine power will get me back to where I need to be. I’ve worked too hard for the little kid in these photos to pass for the dreams I’ve had since I first picked up the ball, so why stop now?
After reaching the national championship game last year despite injuries to Bueckers, Azzi Fudd (foot), Dorka Juhász (wrist), Caroline Ducharme (hip) and several others, UConn players were confident they would all win this coming season with a healthy list. Those ambitions are now completely shifting.
Bueckers became the first freshman in the history of women’s basketball in college to win the Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, AP Player of the Year, and USBWA Player of the Year awards in 2020-21. She averaged 20 points, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game that year.