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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 will 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 new injury during a pickup basketball game, UConn officials said in a statement.
Bueckers, a 5-foot-11 junior, will have surgery on Friday, the university said.
“It’s 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,” Bueckers wrote on Instagram. “It’s hard trying to make much 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.”
In general, recovery time for an A.C.L. injury is at least eight months.
“We’re all devastated for Paige,” UConn Coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this off-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 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.”
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 Four. During a victory against Stanford in the semifinals, she landed on her bad knee during a tussle for a jump ball and then covered her face with her hands.
“Some things, like what happened last night, are more of an in-the-moment type of pain and you can just shake it off,” Bueckers said at the time. “I was just stretching and making sure I could get back in the game as soon as possible.”
Bueckers had 14 points and six rebounds in a 64-49 loss to South Carolina in the final.
Bueckers was named the Associated Press and Naismith College Player of the Year as a freshman for the 2020-21 season, when she averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds.