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Paige Bueckers cleared to return to UConn’s finally healthy roster

Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd will lead UConn into 2023-24 after dealing with injuries last season. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

Paige Bueckers is back.

After missing the 2022-23 season with an ACL injury, the UConn guard and 2021 Player of the Year has been cleared to play again, she announced Wednesday on her Instagram.

“All clear and ready for takeoff,” Bueckers wrote.

UConn’s roster was riddled with injuries throughout last season. In addition to season-ending injuries to Bueckers and freshman Ice Brady, Azzi Fudd, Caroline Ducharme and Dorka Juhász all missed significant time.

UConn still finished with a 31-6 record before losing to Ohio State in the Sweet 16, ending the program’s run of 16 straight Elite Eight appearances and 14 straight Final Fours. The feat was impressive, as UConn played parts of the season with just seven available players. But considering the squad’s historic postseason dominance, a Sweet 16 loss could still be categorized as disappointing.

Now, with Bueckers healthy, the Huskies are poised to reassert their dominance.

The redshirt junior was also injured for a large portion of the 2021-22 season, so Huskies fans haven’t seen Bueckers at full strength since her Player of the Year campaign as a freshman. That season, Bueckers averaged 20 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds while playing 36 minutes per game. In 2021-22, while not fully healthy, Bueckers put up 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game and led the Huskies to the NCAA championship game, where they lost to South Carolina.

Bueckers’ return has been highly anticipated, but she’s not the only weapon UConn boasts heading into the new season.

Aaliyah Edwards also returns for her senior season, after a junior campaign in which she played all 37 games for the Huskies and held the team together during difficult stretches. Edwards was named the Big East’s Most Improved Player and to the All-Big East First Team for her efforts. The forward, who spent the offseason representing Canada in the FIBA AmeriCup, averaged 16.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game last season.

Fudd should also be healthy after a knee injury limited her playing time during her sophomore season. The 2021 No. 1 recruit played 15 games last season, averaging 15.1 points per contest and showing glimpses of her superstar potential.

Point guard Nika Mühl returns for her senior season after leading the team with 7.9 assists per game, and Aubrey Griffin will play as a graduate student after recording 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest in 2022-23.

Brady, the No. 5 recruit in 2022, is ready to make her UConn debut after being sidelined with a dislocated patella tendon. Ducharme, Ayanna Patterson, Amari DeBerry and Inez Bettencourt are also back, and the Huskies added two five-star freshmen to the roster (guards KK Arnold and Ashlynn Shade) and one four-star (forward Qadence Samuels).

Currently, the Huskies have one injury to contend with. Jana El Alfy, a 6-5 center who joined the team last January and did not play, will miss the 2023-24 season with a ruptured Achilles.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.