UConn women's basketball star Paige Bueckers will miss the entire 2022-23 season after tearing the ACL in her left knee during a pickup basketball game on Monday, the team announced.
Bueckers will undergo surgery on Friday at UConn Health and an update on her recovery timetable will be announced after the procedure.
Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement:
"We're all devastated for Paige. She's worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this offseason, 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. Our program will support Paige through her healing process to help her come back better and stronger."
It's a tough blow for Bueckers, who recently told Bleacher Report in an interview that she was gunning for a national championship in 2022-23.
"National championship, that's it," Bueckers said when asked what would make a successful 2022-23 season. "I don't think you're going to get a different answer out of me. Getting to the Final Four my freshman year and the national championship last year, the only thing left to do is win it. So that's the goal."
Bueckers burst onto the college basketball scene during the 2020-21 season as a freshman out of Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota. She averaged 20.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals in 29 games while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from deep.
She helped lead UConn to a berth in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, but the Huskies fell just short of reaching the championship game with a loss to Arizona.
Bueckers went on to earn a number of honors following her freshman season, including the 2021 Wooden Award, 2021 Naismith Trophy and 2021 AP Player of the Year.
The 20-year-old also had a solid sophomore season in 2021-22, though she was limited to just 17 games due to a knee injury suffered in a December game against Notre Dame before undergoing surgery.
Bueckers returned for the final two games of the regular season before playing all of the Big East tournament and NCAA tournament. She helped lead the Huskies to the championship game, where they were defeated by South Carolina.
Bueckers averaged 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 54.4 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore.
The Minnesota native was expected to have an even more impressive 2022-23 campaign, but now her junior season will be put on hold.
The Huskies will have to turn to veterans Aaliyah Edwards, Azzi Fudd, Nika Muhl and Caroline Ducharme this coming season, and now more pressure will be put on incoming freshmen Ayanna Patterson and Isuneh Brady, the No. 4 and No. 5 prospects in ESPN's 2022 class.