Paige Bueckers is returning to a basketball court near you in 2023-24 after missing an entire season due to an ACL tear.
The UConn star won National Player of the Year honors as a freshman in 2020-21, when she averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game while leading the Huskies to the Final Four.
At Big East Media Day on Tuesday in New York, Huskies coach Geno Auriemma let the world know that Bueckers has only gotten better during her time away.
“Can she come back and be all that again? I think so,” Auriemma said. “Paige is a better basketball player now than when she was National Player of the Year.”
Bueckers’ last competitive game came in the 2022 national title game, where UConn lost to South Carolina. The following summer, she suffered the devastating left knee injury during offseason workouts.
Bueckers called the injury a “blessing in disguise” on Tuesday because it “changed a lot (of) who I am.”
“Changing and building great habits now I think will help me in the long run,” Bueckers said, per SNY. “… Putting that UConn jersey on and going out there on the court and playing a game is just a surreal feeling. I never want to take it for granted.”
Bueckers jammed her thumb earlier this month, and Auriemma said she has only been practicing in a limited capacity, but he is not concerned for her availability to start the season.
On Tuesday, the guard was named a preseason All-American and the Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Her Huskies are the heavy favorites to win another conference title.
In 46 career games (42 starts), she has career averages of 18.0 points, 5.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest.
–Field Level Media