A torn ACL is a heartbreaker for any athlete.
Especially one as transcendent as Paige Bueckers.
Bueckers ended the 2021-22 season with a crown on her head, known as one of the best in women’s college basketball alongside Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston after earning National Player of the Year honors as a freshman the previous season.
But her triumphant return from a knee injury that cost her nearly three months of the 2021-22 campaign didn’t last long, as the UConn star guard’s world crumbled in moments during a pickup game in early August 2022.
Here’s everything you need to know about her injury, recovery timeline and plans for the future:
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What is Paige Bueckers’ injury?
Bueckers tore her ACL in said pickup game on August 2, 2022. According to the UConn Blog, she had been running full speed and tried to stop when her left leg simply gave out and she felt a pop. She knew it was bad immediately.
Initial testing didn’t give the full extent of the injury, and Bueckers underwent an MRI that same night, allowing the doctors to double and triple check before confirming her worst nightmare: She had torn her ACL in her left knee and was to miss the entire 2022-23 season.
When will Paige Bueckers’ return?
An ACL tear isn’t a career-ending injury, only a pause-inducing one.
Basketball players usually turn from ACL injuries in about nine months. She injured herself in August 2022, which would put her at May 2023, latest, giving her a summer to get back in the groove.
According to the UConn Blog, she confirmed in September 2022 that she wouldn’t attempt to play even if her rehab was ahead of schedule. She felt that short-term decisions would only impact her in worse ways.
“I’m not gonna play the season just because if I come back too soon, then something else is gonna get injured,” she said then. “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.”
It is not confirmed if a May return is in her exact timeline. No one really knows the exact date Bueckers will be back in play, just that it’ll be before the 2023-24 NCAA season.
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When will Paige Bueckers go to the WNBA?
There’s no question about it – Bueckers will not be declaring for the WNBA Draft this summer, like many might’ve assumed due to her age.
The Minnesota native has said she is 100% dedicated to the Huskies and plans to return for her senior season in 2023-24. She still has some tasks to complete before she hits the big leagues, and three more years of collegiate eligibility to do so.
MORE: Paige Bueckers not planning on WNBA move after injury: ‘I’m not leaving’
Paige Bueckers’ career stats, honors
- Started in 42 of 46 games played
- Averages 33.6 minutes on the court per game
- National Player of the Year as a freshman (2020-21)
- Led UConn to 2022 national championship game as a sophomore
- 18 points per game
- 4.5 rebounds per game
- 5.1 assists per game
- Set the school’s single-game assist record with 14 at Butler in February 2021
- Also the freshman season record holder for total assists with 168
- 22 total blocks
- 91 total steals
- 53% field goal shooting
- 43.4% three-point shooting
- 83% free throw shooting