Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bookers will miss the entire 2022-23 season after tearing the ACL in her left knee during a basketball game Monday. the team announced.
Bueckers will undergo surgery Friday at UConn Health, and an update on her recovery timeline will be released after the procedure.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement:
“We’re all devastated for Paige. She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this season, 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 sad that this happened. This We will miss her presence on the court, 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 return better and stronger.”
It’s a tough blow for Bueckers, who recently told Bleacher Report in an interview that she was gunning for a national championship in 2022-23.
“National championship, that’s it,” Bueckers said when asked what would make for a successful 2022-23 season. “I don’t think you’re going to get a different answer from me. To get to the Final Four my freshman year and the national championship last year, all that’s left is to win it. That’s the goal.”
Bueckers burst onto the college basketball scene during the 2020-21 season as a freshman from Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He averaged 20.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals in 29 games while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from deep.
He helped lead UConn to a spot in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, but the Huskies fell short of the championship game with a loss to Arizona.
Bueckers earned a number of honors following her freshman season, including the 2021 Wooden Award, the 2021 Naismith Trophy and the 2021 AP Player of the Year.
The 20-year-old also had a solid sophomore season in 2021-22, though she was limited to just 17 games due to a knee injury she suffered in a December game against Notre Dame before undergoing surgery.
Bueckers returned for the final two games of the regular season before playing all of the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. He helped lead the Huskies to the championship game, where they were defeated by South Carolina.
Bueckers averaged 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 54.4 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore college student.
The Minnesota native was expected to have an even more impressive 2022-23 campaign, but now her junior season will be put on hold.
The Huskies will have to turn to veterans Aaliyah Edwards, Azzi Fudd, Nika Muhl and Caroline Ducharme next season, and more pressure will now be placed on newcomers Ayanna Patterson and Isuneh Brady, the No. 4 and No. 5 prospects in of ESPN class of 2022.