Paige Bueckers is back and ready to prove herself.

On Tuesday, Bueckers was named to an Associated Press preseason All-American, a sign of what people expect out of the UConn basketball star as she returns to the court for the first time in almost a year and a half.

“To still have people believe in me, believe what I can do on the court, it means a lot,” Bueckers said at the Big East media day. “And just coming back from injury, sort of having that confidence, having other people still have confidence in me it means a lot. But at the end of the day, like preseason awards don’t really matter at all. You got to go out there and prove it.”

Having Bueckers back is big for the Huskies, who are looking to compete with a fully healthy roster this season. Bueckers, Azzi Fudd and Ice Brady all are returning from injuries.

“The difference between having Paige and not having Paige is, you know, your chances of competing for a national championship just went up exponentially,” head coach Geno Auriemma said, noting that this is the best he’s seen Bueckers look – even taking into account her National Player of the Year season as a freshman in 2021.

“Paige is a better player now than she was when she was national player of the year,” he said. “She’s bigger. She’s stronger. She’s quicker. She just sees things differently now than she did when she was a kid.”

Bueckers joins an AP All-America list headlined by Iowa star Caitlin Clark, who was once again a unanimous selection, and LSU star Angel Reese. Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley, Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes rounded out the squad.

Holmes becomes the first preseason All-American in Indiana history, while Clark is now a three-time preseason All-American. All six players have been named end-of-season AP All-Americans in recent years, with Clark, Reese and Holmes making the first team at the end of the 2022-23 season.

Indiana star forward Mackenzie Holmes is out indefinitely after undergoing a knee procedure, the school announced Thursday.

Holmes will immediately begin rehabilitation. The exact injury was not specified by the team, nor was her estimated return to the court.

In a statement on Twitter, Holmes said that she expects to be back “in no time thanks to a great medical team we have here at IU.”

“In the meantime, I’ll be the loudest on the bench, continuing to support my team in pursuit of the goals we have set for this season!”

Holmes is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Hoosiers, averaging 17.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Recently, she was named to the midseason watch list for the Wooden Award.

Currently the Hoosiers, 14-2 overall, are ranked sixth in the country and lead the Big Ten at 6-0. Holmes has been absent in the last two games, which were victories over Nebraska (Jan. 13) and Purdue (Jan. 16). Both of the team’s scheduled games this week were postponed due to COVID-19 protocol.

Indiana is next scheduled to play Jan. 27 against Illinois.

The Indiana Hoosiers took down the Ohio State Buckeyes 86-66 on Sunday thanks to Mackenzie Holmes’ career performance.

The junior dropped 30 points to lead all scorers, adding seven rebounds and five blocks to power the Hoosiers’ offense and defense. As a result, Holmes became the 30th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.

Sunday marked Holmes’ fifth 20-plus point game and third against a top-25 team this season, after she put up 24 points against NC State and 29 against Kentucky.

After the game, Holmes largely credited her teammates for her career performance.

“Most of every point I get is off of a pass from our guards, and I believe I have the best guards in the country on my team,” Holmes said. “They’re always looking for me and they’re just great teammates and selfless. And the end of the day, I just want to win, and that’s the most important to me.”

One of those guards, Grace Berger, contributed 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists on Sunday night.

Indiana dominated Ohio State in the paint, scoring 56 points down low to the Buckeyes’ 18. The Hoosiers also held Ohio State scoreless for more than five minutes after tipoff, with Holmes scoring six points to help the Hoosiers jump out to a 10-0 lead. In total, Indiana held Ohio State to 36 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers.

Jacy Sheldon led the way for the Buckeyes, recording 23 points and four rebounds. Taylor Mikesell was the only other Ohio State player to score in double digits, with 15 points.

Indiana is back in action on Sunday against Western Michigan at 1 p.m. ET, while the Buckeyes look to rebound against Alabama State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

Four players scored in double-digits for second-ranked NC State as they took down sixth-ranked Indiana in the Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge.

Reserve Diamond Johnson led all scorers with 19 points off the bench, while also contributing six rebounds and three assists. Kayla Jones added 17 points and 11 rebounds to secure the double-double while Raina Perez and Elissa Cunane added 13 and 11 points respectively.

The Wolfpack bench contributed 21 points to the Hoosiers’ eight.

Mackenzie Holmes had a big night for the Hoosiers, putting up 24 points and four rebounds in the effort. Ali Patberg and Grace Berger were the only other players to score in double digits, putting up 10 points apiece.

It’s Indiana’s second loss on the season after they were downed by Stanford in another top 10 matchup. For the Wolfpack, it’s their second takedown of a top 10 team after beating No. 8 Maryland on Thanksgiving.

NC State will host Elon on Sunday while Indiana will see their first Big Ten game on Monday when they host Penn State.