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

Storrs, Connecticut — UConn Star Paige BookersThe 2020-21 Women’s College Basketball National Player of the Year Thursday will return to the Huskies for the 2023-24 season despite being age eligible to declare in the 2023 WNBA Draft on Thursday. said. with ACL injury.

“I’m not leaving. It doesn’t matter,” Bookers told reporters Thursday in his first media appearance since his injury in August. What do you think about the redshirts of the NBA?’ I’m not thinking too far ahead, but I’m going to get back into college basketball.”

Buckers, a junior who took the college basketball scene by storm during his freshman season at UConn, has three years of eligibility left after the 2022-23 campaign.

The Minnesota native has won just about every national honor imaginable, including the Nancy Lieberman Award, Naismith Player of the Year, and Wood Award, plus the NCAA has eased restrictions on names and images. Became one of the most prominent figures in the sport. And caricature opportunities, something she still has available.

Bookers’ torn ACL was a devastating blow for the point guard after missing 19 games from November to February last season, and she suffered a tibial plateau fracture and a torn lateral meniscus in her left knee. and helped lead the second-seeded UConn to their first national title game since 2016.

Bookers said he was feeling “really good” physically before his ACL tear and was anxious for the season to start. .

“I was running full speed and I tried to stop, but there wasn’t a lot of contact, but I kind of messed up,” Bookers said. “I knew it was wrong. I was heartbroken. Then I went to the training room and I was so frustrated. I didn’t know how serious it was, but I knew something was wrong.”

An MRI later confirmed an ACL tear, and she underwent surgery to repair it later that week.

The point guard said rehab is going well and she’s been able to walk more recently. will be

“I had an injury last year, but I have the peace of mind that I can always come back, and I can come back in the same season,” Bookers said. “This really makes me not want to take things for granted. Live in the moment and don’t think too far ahead because you never know what might happen. So make the most of your abilities.” I just live each day and thank God I can wake up every morning.”

Bookers has dashed hopes of her making a quick comeback in time for the 2022-23 season.

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

She also wants to coach the players during the season to support her teammates.

“No, I’m the head coach,” Bookers joked. “coach [Auriemma] let me take his place ”

The Huskies seek a new identity after sending three players to the WNBA. Helping to pick up the mantle is a mix of senior returnees and up-and-coming underclassmen (former-wide recruits headlined) Aji Fad) and a number of new recruits, including three freshmen and alumni transfers.

“Last year we were the underdogs, but I think we are playing better because we played in the national championship games. “And I know a lot of people are already counting on us. That’s why I’m excited. This team knows our potential. I They know our potential.The coaches know our potential.I’m excited to show the world what they can do for us.”

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