Paige Bueckers’ UConn career isn’t over. Although she’ll miss the entire upcoming season after tearing her ACL in August and is eligible to enter the 2023 WNBA Draft, Bueckers confirmed she’ll be back with the Huskies in 2023-24.
“I’m not leaving. That is not in the question,” she said on Thursday. “People asked me, ‘What are you thinking about your fifth year, COVID year, redshirting this year?’ I’m not thinking too far ahead about that at all but I will be playing college basketball again.”
While UConn ruled Bueckers out for the season when it announced the injury, she affirmed that she will not return at any point this season, even if her recovery is ahead of schedule.
“I’m not gonna play the season just because if I come back too soon, then something else is gonna get injured,” she said. “I really just want to be 110% healthy before I ever play basketball again just because I never want to take a break like this again, ever, in my career.”
Bueckers tore her ACL during a pick-up game on Aug. 1 and underwent successful surgery at UConn Health on Aug. 5 to repair the injury. When the news about the injury came out, there was speculation she could depart to the WNBA without ever suiting up for the Huskies again since she was eligible for the 2023 Draft and been open about her goal of playing in the league.
This is the second major injury Bueckers has suffered in her left knee over the past year. In December 2021, she went down with a tibial plateau fracture and torn meniscus that required surgery and kept her out until February. Bueckers missed 19 games but returned to play in UConn’s final 11 contests and helped the team to an appearance in the national championship.
According to Bueckers, the two injuries were not connected.
“I was really good. I was really good before the injury,” she said when asked how her knee felt prior. “I was ready for the season to start.”
“No, they’re unrelated,” she stated when specifically asked if a her knee was vulnerable to another injury.
Bueckers will have three more years of eligibility remaining after this season: Her would-be senior campaign in 2023-24, her redshirt season in 2024-25 and the bonus COVID year in 2025-26.