UConn star women’s basketball player Paige Bueckers said she will be returning to school next season despite being eligible for the WNBA Draft.
Bueckers, who won’t be playing during the 2022-23 season after tearing her ACL, said it was “not in question” that she would stay in Storrs, Conn. to continue playing for the Huskies and head coach Geno Auriemma.
“I’m not leaving,” she told reporters Thursday via ESPN. “That is not in question. People asked me, ‘What are you thinking about fifth year, COVID year, redshirting this year?’
“I’m not thinking too far ahead about that all. But I will be playing college basketball again.”
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Paige Bueckers of the Connecticut Huskies watches warmups before a game against the Louisville Cardinals at Mohegan Sun Arena Dec. 19, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (G Fiume/Getty Images)
While she didn’t commit to that fifth year, she is eligible for three more seasons in college if she wishes.
Bueckers’ ACL tear was devastating for Auriemma’s squad, a group looking to rebound from losing in the national championship game to South Carolina, 64-49. She missed 19 games last season with a plateau fracture in her tibia and a meniscus tear.
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Bueckers was hurt during a pickup game at UConn Aug. 1.
UConn Huskies guard Paige Bueckers reacts after witnessing an injury to teammate Dorka Juhasz during an Elite Eight NCAA tournament game against the N.C. State Wolfpack March 28, 2022, at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. (M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
“I was going full speed, and I sort of tried to come to a stop. And there was some contact — not a lot of contact — but it just kind of gave out,” she said.
Rehab has been going well since for Bueckers, and she said it “makes me never want to take things for granted again, live in the moment, don’t think too far in the future because you never know what could happen.”
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Bueckers is considered by many to be the next WNBA superstar after her outstanding freshman season with the Huskies. She averaged 20 points per game with 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 29 games.
Bueckers won just about every national award, from the Naismith Player of the Year and the Wooden Award to the Nancy Lieberman Award for best collegiate point guard.
Paige Bueckers of the Connecticut Huskies against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the championship game of the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament at Target Center April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Whether Bueckers returns to form next season will be up for debate, but there will be a next season for her in a Huskies uniform. In the meantime, she hopes to help out Auriemma and his staff in any way she can.