The UConn Huskies’ Paige Bueckers, the 2020-21 college basketball player of the year, was released about a year after undergoing cruciate ligament surgery on her left knee, she announced on Instagram Wednesday.
“All clear and ready to go,” Bueckers wrote, adding “369” to indicate the number of days since her surgery. “God did it!”
Bueckers said earlier this summer that she attends all basketball activities except the live 5-a-side game. Coach Geno Auriemma told reporters in late June that she was “90%” recovered and is expected to be available again at the start of the 2023-24 season. The one-year anniversary of her ACL surgery was August 5th.
The 5-11 Minnesota player has missed most of the past two seasons due to left knee injuries — the first was a broken shin and lateral meniscus tear in December of her sophomore season and the second was a cruciate ligament tear in August prior to her junior year. After a glittering collegiate debut season in which she took home virtually every single award, Bueckers played 17 games as a sophomore before missing her entire junior season.
When Auriemma Bueckers last spoke to the media, he praised the progress.
“This is the best she’s ever been, the strongest she’s ever been, the fittest she’s ever been,” Auriemma said. “That’s most of the time she’s spent working on her body, her mind, [and] just take care of yourself. … [The injury layoff] showed her that if you want to have a long career, you have to do it like this from now on, with injuries, without injuries, it doesn’t matter. You must do that. And she accepted it.
The Huskies are targeting the program’s 12th national championship in the 2023-24 season. They lost to South Carolina in the 2022 national title game and their streak of 14 consecutive Final Four appearances ended in 2023 when they lost to Ohio State at the Sweet 16. They are #2 in ESPN’s Way-Too-Early rankings behind defending state champion LSU.