Paige Bueckers sees "light at the end of the tunnel" in college basketball return

Storrs, Connecticut - UConn's shining star Paige Bueckers is set to make her grand return to college basketball!

Nearly a year since tearing her ACL, UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers (l) is expected to be fully ready by the start of the 2023-24 season this fall.
Nearly a year since tearing her ACL, UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers (l) is expected to be fully ready by the start of the 2023-24 season this fall.  © ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

While the Huskies' women's basketball team dealt with a slew of injuries last year, Bueckers was by far the biggest blow.

Bueckers was among the nation's best hoopers as the 2021 Naismith Player of the Year. Instead of continuing her run, the redshirt junior missed the entire next season after tearing her ACL last summer.

Her absence was a critical hit to the Huskies, who failed to qualify for the Final Four for the first time in 14 years.

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Now, nearly a year since Bueckers' injury, Head Coach Geno Auriemma shared some good news that will have hoops fans excited.

Auriemma reported Bueckers is at "90%" in her comeback journey and that she is expected to be back in the game by the start of the 2023-24 season.

"This is the best she's ever been, the strongest she's ever been, the fittest she's ever been," the coach reflected. "This is the most time she has spent working on her body, her mind, just taking care of herself."

Auriemma added that Bueckers' time sidelined "showed her, if you want a long career, this is how you're gonna have to go about it from here on in. Injuries, no injuries, it doesn't matter. This is what you're gonna have to do. And she's embraced it."

Paige Bueckers feels close to full-strength

Last week, Paige Bueckers (l) revealed that she is "starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the finishing mark," after her ACL injury.
Last week, Paige Bueckers (l) revealed that she is "starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the finishing mark," after her ACL injury.  © ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Paige Bueckers was the most sought out player in the nation when coming out of high school, and has made an immediate impact on the court since she was a freshman. She has continued to be one of the most sought after college athletes for endorsement deals.

Last week, the 21-year-old spoke to reporters about her comeback, revealing she is "starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the finishing mark."

"I'm feeling really good. I'm just past the 10-month mark [following the injury and surgery]," Bueckers said. "So I'm definitely starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the finishing mark.

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"But there's a long way to go. ACL recoveries take a long time."

With Bueckers nearly back to full health, the Huskies will again be in the mix as one of the top teams to compete for a national title this upcoming season.

"I want to be the type of player that I was before, pre-injury, but better," Bueckers added. "I have those expectations for myself, so that's where I want to be."

Cover photo: ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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