UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers injured to override early WNBA draft entry, return to Huskies for 2023-24 season

STORRS, Conn. – UConn star Big BakersThe 2020-2021 Women’s National Basketball Player of the Year said Thursday that while she will be eligible to announce the 2023 WNBA draft, she will return to the huskies for the 2023-24 season despite being sidelined this coming season with an ACL injury.

“I’m not leaving. That’s not in question,” Beckers told reporters Thursday in her first media appearance since her injury in August. “People asked me, ‘What do you think about year five, the year of COVID, delaying Kindergarten this year. “I don’t think much about it at all. But I will play college basketball again.”

The Boyers, a junior who took on the college basketball scene by storming her first season at UConn, will have three years of eligibility left after the 2022-23 campaign.

In addition to earning every national honor imaginable (including the Nancy Lieberman Award, the Naismith Player of the Year Award, and the Wooden Award), the Minnesota native has become one of the most prominent faces in the sport as the NCAA relaxed regulations surrounding name, image and likeness opportunities, something she will continue to take advantage of.

Beckers’ anterior cruciate ligament tear was a devastating blow to the goalkeeper after she missed 19 games during November and February last season with a fracture of the tibial plateau and a ruptured lateral meniscus in her left knee. She was back in time for the NCAA Championship, helping propel 2-seeded UConn to its first appearance in the national title game since 2016, which the Huskies lost to the top seed in South Carolina.

Beckers said that before her ACL tear, she was feeling “really good” and was eager to start the season. Then came the fateful pick-up game at Storrs on August 1st.

“I was going full speed and I kind of tried to stop and there was some contact, not a lot of contact, but he kind of gave up,” Beckers said. “I knew it was bad. I felt a pop. Then I went to the practice room and got really frustrated. I didn’t know how serious it was, but I knew something was wrong.”

An MRI later confirmed her ACL rupture, and she underwent surgery later that week to repair it. Although the accident occurred in the same knee she injured last year, Beckers said the accidents were “unrelated”.

Rule said that rehabilitation is going well and that she has recently been able to walk a lot. She has been riding a bike, has been allowed chair exercises and will soon be able to do work in the pool.

“Last year I got hurt, but there was always a sense of reassurance that I could come back and I could be back in the same season,” Beckers said. “It really makes me never want to take things for granted again, live in the moment, and never think far into the future because you never know what could happen. So just live each day as best I can, thank God I wake up every morning “.

The Bakers silenced any hope of her speedy return in time to appear in the 2022-23 season.

“I really want to be 110% healthy before I play basketball again,” Beckers said. “Just because I don’t want to take a break like this again, in my career.”

She also hopes to act as a player coach during the season to support her teammates – if she doesn’t replace coach Geno Auriemma first.

“Yes, I’m a head coach,” the Bakers joked. “Fitness Trainer [Auriemma] Let me take his place.”

Huskys will search for a new identity after three players were expelled to the WNBA. Help in taking up the mantle will be a mixture of upper-caste returnees, lower-caste promises (under the title Recruit No. 1 the previous year Azzi Fd) and a large number of new arrivals, including three new students and a transfer graduate.

“Last year we were the underdogs and made it to the National Championship game, so I think we’re playing better and doing better with a chip on our shoulder, and we have a lot to prove,” the Bakers said. “And I know a lot of people are already preparing us. So I’m excited. This team knows our potential. I know our potential, the coach knows our potential, and we really have big things ahead of us. … I’m excited for them to show the world what we can do.”

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