STORRS, Conn. (AP)UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers tore the ACL in her left knee during a pickup game and will miss the entire 2022-23 season, the school announced Wednesday.
UConn said in a statement that Bueckers suffered the injury Monday and underwent an MRI that evening. It did not say where the junior guard from Hopkins, Minnesota, was playing when the injury occurred. It was the same knee she injured last year, causing her to miss significant time.
In a statement posted on her Instagram account, Bueckers said she is leaning on her faith to move forward.
”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,” she wrote. ”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.”
Bueckers was named the 2020-21 AP national player of the year, becoming the first freshman to earn that honor. She averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game that season.
She missed 19 games last season after suffering a left knee tibia plateau fracture and torn meniscus in early December. But Bueckers returned to lead the Huskies to the Final Four, where the Huskies lost to South Carolina in the championship game at Target Center in Minneapolis, which is 10 miles from her hometown.
She finished the season averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
”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.”
UConn said Bueckers will undergo surgery on Friday at UConn Health in Farmington.
”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,” Bueckers wrote. ”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? The prayers and love means so much to me and the doubts that I won’t get back to where I was might mean even more. God put a dream in my heart and even if I have to walk through a nightmare to get it I’m going to keep believing.”
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25