Home Womens boots UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers will miss the season with a torn ACL

UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers will miss the season with a torn ACL


Paige Bueckers tore her ACL in her left knee and will miss the 2022-23 season, the final and most devastating setback in her famous life with the UConn women’s basketball team.

The news came Wednesday from UConn, one of those heartbreaking announcements in the thick summer air with a statement from coach Geno Auriemma that stole the breath of a basketball community.

Bueckers, UConn said, was injured in a pickup game on Monday, with MRI confirmation later in the day. She is due for surgery Friday at UConn Health. Shortly thereafter, possibly early next week, a recovery schedule will be available.

But Bueckers is certainly out for the upcoming season – an absence that greatly complicates the Huskies’ national championship aspirations and could even cloud the future of one of the game’s brightest young stars. She missed 19 games on the season. last due to separate injuries to the same knee.

“It’s so crazy because you’re working so hard to get healthy, you’re feeling stronger than ever, and you’re playing your best basketball and with one sudden movement, everything changes,” Bueckers, 20, wrote. on Instagram. “It’s hard trying to make sense of it all now, but I can’t help but feel that God is using me as a testimony of all you can overcome with Him by your side. A little kid who just tore their ACL or had major surgery might need this P story cause its gonna be one hell of a comeback there will be good days and there will be bad days but my absolute love for the game and my divine strength will bring me back to where I need to be.

Bueckers’ anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear required surgery and sidelined her for more than two months of the 2021-22 season, one in which the Huskies were decimated by injuries in the alignment.

Bueckers’ March brilliance helped UConn steer another NCAA Tournament to the national championship game. She scored 27 points in an Elite Eight double-overtime victory over NC State, leading the Huskies to a 14th consecutive Final Four. But days after a league loss to South Carolina, Auriemma said he considered Bueckers’ sophomore season “a washout.” It was a washout, unfortunately.

This summer was supposed to be about strengthening, getting proper rest, doing everything to ensure a healthy junior season. But another freak basketball fluke, perhaps aided by all the stress his lower body has endured in recent years, once again served as a cruel interruption.

“We are all devastated for Paige,” Auriemma said in the statement. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this offseason, and it’s an unfortunate setback. Paige is obviously an amazing basketball player, but she’s a better person and a better teammate and that’s really Too bad that happened to her. Her presence on the pitch will be missed, but she will do everything she can to continue to lead and help her teammates this season. Our program will support Paige through her healing process to help him come back better and stronger.

Bueckers is expected to return to play at UConn for the 2023-24 season and also retains NCAA eligibility for 2024-25 as the NCAA grants an additional season to student-athletes who played during the 2020-21 pandemic season. She can likely continue to make a living comfortably through name, image and likeness deals during her recovery and afterwards, eventually finishing her way to a bachelor’s degree and even a master’s degree before leaving UConn — where she did. had a rewarding and stimulating experience.

Bueckers limped through his senior season at Hopkins High School in Minnesota — occasionally wearing a boot and skipping practices, sitting out at least one state playoff game — while dealing with shin pain, critical to overuse.

She arrived at UConn at the height of the pandemic and hosted one of the best seasons by a freshman in sports history at virtually empty gyms from 2020-21, averaging 20 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 and 36.2 minutes. Bueckers became the first freshman to win the following National Player of the Year awards: The Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, AP Player of the Year, and USBWA Player of the Year.

But she lost most of the following offseason to ankle surgery, using crutches for months to get around the Werth Champions Center. As a sophomore, she was limited after her long absence, finishing with averages of 14.6 points, four rebounds and 3.9 assists.

Auriemma emphasized early this offseason how important it is for Bueckers to develop additional all-around strength, not only to recover fully, but also to absorb the hits that her style of play and the way she is defended take. He suggested she stay on campus to work with the athletic training and strength and conditioning staff at UConn.

Then came Monday’s injury and Wednesday’s announcement.

A peace sign emoji followed his Instagram post. When Bueckers chose to share his thoughts, less than an hour after UConn’s announcement, his words were instantly available to his more than one million followers on Instagram.

Bueckers is one of the most visible players in all of sport, at the forefront of the NIL era with a brand that has transcended basketball. Backed by the powerful Wasserman Agency, she’s signed numerous lucrative deals – Gatorade, StockX and Crocs among them – and is one of the most marketable athletes in college sports.

Bueckers came to UConn as the No. 1 recruit in the high school class of 2020, and perhaps the most famous female high school player in history. She was on the cover of Slam Magazine. A documentary crew followed his every move. She led Hopkins to an undefeated state championship as a junior in 2019 and the team was undefeated again before the 2020 championship game was canceled due to COVID-19. She was named 2020 Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year and National Athlete of the Year.

Then she basically took over the world of basketball, one no-look pass and clutch shot at a time. She was named Top College Athlete at the ESPY Awards and has used this platform to empower others and shine more of a spotlight on the black community.

Bueckers’ absence creates a unique void for one of America’s most talented teams.

Sophomore shooting guard Azzi Fudd, herself a No. 1 national rookie in the class that followed Bueckers, lost much of his 2021-22 freshman season to a foot injury. She played four games before being sidelined until the end of January, averaging 12.1 points and 27.9 minutes overall.

Fudd, still struggling with foot complications as recently as June, now emerges as the team’s clearest perimeter scorer option – but without the nation’s best playmaker and one of his best friends by his side.

Fudd has recent experience of what Bueckers is up against. She was named Gatorade National High School Player of the Year as a sophomore at St. John’s College High, but soon suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee, enduring a long and grueling rehabilitation process.

Guards Christyn Williams and Evina Westbrook, who totaled 23.2 points per game as a senior last season, are gone. Junior Nika Mühl, also a junior and exceptionally close to Bueckers, will see his role increase as he has in Bueckers’ absence in the past.

The addition of Lou Lopez Senechal, a transfer graduate from Fairfield and a sharpshooter in four years at the mid-major level, takes on even greater significance. Second-year guard/forward Caroline Ducharme, who carried UConn through her most exhausted times last season, is recovering from hip surgery in April. Its continued development will be key.

UConn, if whole, could have been the No. 1 ranked preseason team in the nation. Bueckers is young enough that this is ultimately nothing more than a dot on the radar. So far, it’s devastating.

Many players — including Sue Bird, who tore an ACL as a UConn rookie — have gone on to legendary careers after this type of injury. Others, like Shea Ralph, had one freak setback after another until their careers went off the rails.

“I’ve worked too hard to keep the little kid in these photos fulfilling the dreams I’ve had since I first took the ball on, so why should I stop now?” Bueckers wrote in his Instagram post. “Prayers and love mean so much to me and doubts that I won’t return to where I was could mean even more. God put a dream in my heart and even though I have to go through a nightmare to get it, I will continue to believe in it. All my love, P.”