UConn star Paige Bueckers suffered a torn ACL in her left knee on Monday and will miss the 2022-23 season. Per a team release, the junior guard sustained the injury during a pick-up basketball game. She underwent an MRI Monday evening and the injury was confirmed.
“We’re all devastated for Paige. She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this offseason, and this is an unfortunate setback,” said head coach Geno Auriemma on a statement.
“Paige is obviously an amazing basketball player but she’s a better person and teammate and it’s really unfortunate that this has happened to her. We’ll miss her presence on the court, but she’ll do everything she can to still lead and help her teammates this season. Our program will support Paige through her healing process to help her come back better and stronger.”
Bueckers is set to undergo surgery on Friday at UConn Health.
The 5’11” guard established herself as one of the most talented players in women’s college basketball after a solid freshman campaign in which she averaged 20 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. She became the first freshman to ever be named the Associated Press Women’s Player of the Year, and also earned the 2021 Naismith Trophy.
Her sophomore season didn’t go as smoothly. Bueckers suffered a knee injury last December and required surgery for anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear. That surgery happened on Dec. 13 and Bueckers then had to sit out for 19 consecutive games before making her return late February. She helped her team take an impressive 93-38 win over St. John’s during her first day back, but it took a few more weeks before Bueckers truly looked like her old self.
The Huskies made it all the way to the NCAA championship game before falling to the South Carolina Gamecocks. Bueckers wrapped up the season with an average of 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting at 54.4% from the field in 17 games.
“It’s so so crazy because you work so hard to get back healthy, you feel stronger than ever, and you are playing your best basketball and with one sudden movement it all shifts,” Bueckers wrote on instagram.
“It’s hard trying to make sense of it all now but I can’t help but think that God is using me as a testimony as to how much you can overcome with Him by your side. Some little kid that just tore their ACL or had a major surgery might need this story P, because it’s going to be one hell of a comeback.”
It’s undoubtedly a tough situation for Bueckers, but she is already getting a lot of support and get-well wishes from the basketball community.
“Praying for you,” said Iowa star Caitlin Clark after the news broke. “Someone who is so good for our game! Can’t wait to see you come back even stronger.”
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley is also wishing Bueckers, perhaps her most challenging rival, a quick recovery.
UConn is set to start its 2022-23 season on Nov. 10 against Northeastern. The Huskies were expected to be one of the top teams in the country next season with a healthy Bueckers. There are other players who could still make UConn a tough team to beat, but there is no doubt that her absence will be felt.