all scores

Paige Bueckers vows to skip 2023 WNBA Draft, return to UConn

Bueckers led UConn to the 2022 national championship game after returning from an injury in February. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Paige Bueckers won’t be playing for the sixth-ranked UConn Huskies this season, but she remains fully committed to the program.

Bueckers tore her ACL during a pick-up game in August and had surgery days later. She will miss the entire 2022-23 season while she recovers, but the point guard plans to remain involved on the sidelines.

She’s even given herself a new moniker: “Coach P.”

“I’m the players’ coach,” Bueckers recently told reporters. “I’m going to be the one they can talk to, the one that’s going to push them, also the one they can rely on when they need support.”

Head coach Geno Auriemma, who expressed confidence in the Huskies’ pursuit of another championship last week, is eager for Bueckers to assume her new role.

“I’m anxious to have her learn more about the game by doing those things, by sitting in practice and watching from a coach’s eyes instead of a player’s eyes,” he said. “And she’ll be the same Paige she’s always been, though, and she’ll get carried away and she’ll want to do this and she’ll want to do that and she’ll want to have input in this.”

Though she’s sitting out this season, the junior guard will be eligible for the WNBA Draft in 2023. Celebrating her 21st birthday on Thursday, she would meet the age requirement for the draft in April.

But Bueckers, who won a slew of Player of the Year awards as a freshman and led UConn to the national championship game last year, plans to stay with the Huskies.

“I’m not leaving, that is not any question,” Bueckers said. “I’m not thinking too far ahead, but I will be playing college basketball again.”

She averaged 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game for the Huskies last season, despite battling a knee fracture that required surgery in December.

UConn opens the 2022-23 season Nov. 10 against Northeastern before hosting No. 3 Texas on Nov. 14 in its first ranked matchup of the year.