Aside from UConn coming up short of winning a national title, Paige Bueckers‘ freshman season with the Huskies couldn’t have gone much better.
She took home every National Player of the Year award she was nominated for, including the AP Player of the Year, the Naismith College Player of the Year, and the Wooden Award, becoming the first freshman ever to win those prestigious awards.
But now as a sophomore coming off right ankle surgery, Bueckers is ready to get things going in her second season in Storrs, Conn.
“It went well,” Bueckers said of her offseason at Tuesday’s Big East media day at Madison Square Garden. “I think I needed the surgery, as much as I didn’t want to get it, as much as I tried to convince them that I didn’t need it. I did need it, it was successful, it was a lot of rehab this summer, and a lot of getting stronger, whether it be in the weight room or just with my leg and my ankle, and I think it went really well.”
As a true freshman last season, Bueckers averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent from three-point range. And while her ankle surgery kept her off the court for much of the offseason, she still found ways to improve her game.
“Not being able to work on (my game physically) a lot, I watched a lot of film, a lot of my old stuff from last year and a lot of other people to learn from them,” Bueckers told SNY. “But like I said, I was in the weight room a lot so I tried to get stronger and add that aspect to my game, and then just working on the little details whether it be defensively or offensively. I just tried to tighten everything up.”
UConn finished the 2020-21 season with a 28-2 record. As a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Huskies advanced to the Final Four before being eliminated by Arizona.
They enter this season with another strongly regarded recruiting class, including No. 1 overall recruit Azzi Fudd, and Bueckers has high hopes for what this team can achieve.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “The ones who are returning from last year, we have a lot more experience, we have a lot more knowledge. And then our freshman crew, they’re really, really good. Dorka (Juhasz), the transfer, I mean everybody’s coming together and we have such great pieces and I’m really liking where our team is heading.”