Paige Bueckers, the UConn women’s basketball star who missed most of last season with a knee injury, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Monday and can miss the 2022-23 season, the university announced Wednesday.
Bueckers, a 20-year-old guard from Minnesota, missed nearly three months of games last season after having surgery on her left knee in December but returned in February and led UConn to the national championship game. She sustained her recent injury during a pickup basketball game, UConn officials said in an announcement.
Bueckers, a 5-foot-11 junior, could have surgery on Friday, the university said.
“It’s so crazy because you’re employed so hard to get back healthy, you’re feeling stronger than ever, and you might be playing your best basketball and with one sudden movement all of it shifts,” Bueckers wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard attempting to make much sense of all of it now but I can’t help but think that God is using me as a sworn statement as to how much you possibly can overcome with Him by your side.”
Usually, recovery time for an A.C.L. injury is at the least eight months.
“We’re all devastated for Paige,” UConn Coach Geno Auriemma said in an announcement. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this off-season, and that is an unlucky setback.
“Paige is clearly a tremendous basketball player but she’s a greater person and teammate and it’s really unlucky that this has happened to her. We’ll miss her presence on the court, but she’ll do every thing she will be able to to still lead and help her teammates this season.”
Bueckers had surgery on her left knee on Dec. 13 to repair an anterior tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear that she suffered during UConn’s game on Dec. 5 against Notre Dame.
She returned in late February and helped lead UConn to the Final 4. During a victory against Stanford within the semifinals, she landed on her bad knee during a tussle for a jump ball after which covered her face together with her hands.
“Some things, like what happened last night, are more of an in-the-moment kind of pain and you possibly can just shake it off,” Bueckers said on the time. “I used to be just stretching and ensuring I could get back in the sport as soon as possible.”
Bueckers had 14 points and 6 rebounds in a 64-49 loss to South Carolina in the ultimate.
Bueckers was named the Associated Press and Naismith College Player of the Yr as a freshman for the 2020-21 season, when she averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds.