Bueckers suffers torn ACL, will miss 2022-23 season for UConn

STORRS, Conn. — The UConn women’s basketball program announced devastating news Wednesday that will undoubtedly change the course of its 2022-23 season.

Superstar guard Paige Bueckers suffered a torn ACL in her left knee during a pick-up basketball game on Monday. She will be out for the upcoming season, according to a team news release.

Bueckers, the former Hopkins High phenom, underwent an MRI Monday evening to confirm the injury. She will undergo surgery on Friday at UConn Health. An update on the timeline for her recovery will be shared following the procedure.

“We’re all devastated for Paige,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this offseason, and this is an unfortunate setback. 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.”

The news is a huge blow to the Huskies, who were burdened by injuries and COVID-19 issues to almost the entire roster last season. That included Bueckers, who missed 19 games after suffering an anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in the same left knee. She had surgery Dec. 13 but returned to action on Feb. 25 and led the Huskies to the Final Four in Minneapolis; they lost in the championship game to South Carolina.

She still led the team with averages of 14.6 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Bueckers had committed to stay in Storrs for the summer to get stronger to prevent injury.

“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 posted 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.

“There is going to be good days and there is going to be bad days but my absolute love for the game and Godly strength will get me back to where I need to be. I’ve worked too hard for the little kid in these pictures to keep going for the dreams I’ve had since I first picked up the ball, so why would I 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 in their ability to win it all this upcoming season with a healthy roster. Those aspirations completely shift now.

Bueckers became the first freshman in women’s college basketball history to earn the Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, AP Player of the Year and USBWA Player of the Year honors in 2020-21. She averaged 20 points, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game that year.

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