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Paige Bueckers hints at returning to UConn next season

The redshirt junior hasn’t officially announced anything, but she seems to be leaning in one direction.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

While Paige Bueckers has generally side-stepped any questions about her future at UConn beyond this season, the redshirt junior hinted that she’s leaning towards a return to Storrs in 2024-25.

“It’s not about teams in the draft, who’s got what pick,” Bueckers told the media on Tuesday. “It’s all about me loving playing here, me loving my teammates and wanting to get more experiences and more time with them and more time in the program. I think that’s the deciding factor, just wanting to be here longer and not anything necessarily that’s already picked and chosen in the draft.”

If nothing else, Bueckers’ answer provided more insight into why she’d potentially return than when she was asked the same question over the summer.

“I’ve really learned in all that I’ve been through not to speak about the future because you never know what’s going to happen,” she said at the time. “So I’m just trying to stay present stay in the moment. But you never know. I have no idea. So we’ll see.”

Bueckers wasn’t the only one to reference her future at UConn, either. Geno Auriemma referred to it while talking about her leadership ability.

“She’s probably one more college year away from really, really getting it,” he said, before giving a big smile.

Bueckers has two seasons of eligibility remaining beyond this one thanks to a redshirt and Covid years, but she can also enter her name into the WNBA Draft, where she’s projected to be a top-three pick in a loaded 2024 class.

To this point, her only full season with the Huskies was her freshman campaign. She sat out 19 games as a sophomore with a tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear then missed the entire 2022-23 season with a torn ACL. When Bueckers spoke to reporters for the first time after suffering the latter injury, she left no question about her future.

“I’m not leaving. That is not in the question,” she said in August 2022. “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.”

Bueckers returned this year and has played in all 15 games so far, averaging 19.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting 53.9 percent overall and 50.8 percent from three.

UConn has enough scholarships for Bueckers to come back. If she decides to stay, she’d be the 13th player on the roster, including the 10 projected returners and two incoming freshmen but excluding the three other seniors (Aaliyah Edwards, Aubrey Griffin, and Nika Mühl, who all have an additional year of eligibility).