UConn Women’s basketball star Azzi Fudd will miss the remainder of the 2023-2024 season with a Medial Meniscal and ACL tear in her right knee. It was reported Fudd suffered a non-contact injury during practice.
Once quoted by the late Kobe Bryant, “Turn every setback into a comeback.” For University of Connecticut guard Azzi Fudd, this has been the storyline for the majority of her career. Given the fact UConn has two No. 1 recruits, they’ve spent more time supporting each other off the bench due to injuries, rather than on the court.
One of the most prolific programs in all of women’s college basketball has been hit with another devastating injury. First, Connecticut lost Paige Bueckers to a torn ACL all of last season. Now, Junior guard Azzi Fudd will not see the court again this year. Once a five star recruit out of Washington D.C, Fudd became just the 12th player, along with Bueckers to sign as a No.1 recruit since 1998. It’s punch in the gut to a program that’s suffered multiple injuries over the last few years. She’s been advertised as one of the most generational recruits in women’s basketball history. And yes, she’s that good.
What are the odds of the program losing both Bueckers and Fudd due to ACL tears in back-to- back seasons? For coach Geno Auriemma, he is saddened, yet confident about her recovery and the future.
UConn guard Azzi Fudd will miss the remainder of the 2023-24 season after suffering ACL and medial meniscal tears in her right knee, the team announced Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/I8Hc28LKI2
— ESPN (@espn) November 22, 2023
“We’re all just so upset for Azzi,” Geno Auriemma said. “She worked hard to be healthy for this season, and it’s unfortunate when you put in a lot of hard work and have a setback like this. Azzi loves the game and works tirelessly. I’m confident she’ll rehab with the same work ethic and come back better than ever.”
Unfortunately, Fudd is no stranger to injuries. One of the first girls to ever attend Warriors Steph Curry’s SC30 Select Camp, the former Gatorade National Player of the Year has dealt with and overcome several past injuries at a young age. When competing for the USA 18 and under 3 vs. 3, the UConn guard tore both the MCL and ACL in the same knee. With the Huskies falling short of winning a National Title against South Carolina in 2022, the program hasn’t seen a fair chance due to injuries ever since.
Many wonder, is this the end of the UConn Women’s basketball dynasty? As a fellow student and graduate of the University of Connecticut, it sure feels that way in the moment. However, this is a unit who’s overcome several obstacles, and again, is one of the winningest programs in NCAA history. Then again, with the NIL deals, several athletes aren’t following in the typical footsteps others once did. Also, I’d like to think one injury doesn’t determine the seasons outcome. For example, the Las Vegas Aces pulled off an WNBA Championship Title with several injuries to star players.
Paige Bueckers ➡️ Azzi Fudd
We missed this 🥲 pic.twitter.com/J6FaK64Plu
— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) November 9, 2023
Perhaps there’s a silver lining in all of this. Having suffered this injury before, Fudd also has the support of Bueckers, who spent 369 days rehabbing her torn ACL. If there’s an aspect this UConn team possess, it’s overcoming adversity and strength.
In her third year with the program, Fudd missed multiple games in her UConn career. Limited to 25 games due to a foot injury her freshman year, the guard also missed time with several knee injuries her sophmore year. Overall, she’s missed 33 games in her collegiate career.
There was much optimism for head coach Geno Auriemma and the Huskies after the return of Bueckers this season. After conceding to Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen, Connecticut was poised for a big year as they were initially ranked the No.2 seed behind LSU. Having already lost Jana El Alfy with an Achilles injury, coach Auriemma and the Huskies again find themselves in a familiar situation.
3-2 on the season, Connecticut this time will have to rely on their star players Aaliyah Edwards and Paige Bueckers, who are both future WNBA draft picks. Although a talent that’s not replaceable, Fudd, who averaged over 11 points per game, will likely be substituted by Aubrey Griffen and Qadence Samuels. Barely a month into the season, the Huskies now have the chance to get the full healthy version of Bueckers. In a critical time to lead this team, Connecticut and Bueckers will once again have to channel their inner strength.
Having previously announced she’s “staying” in Storrs beyond this season, should give Connecticut fans hope for Fudd. It’s possible for UConn to make an NCAA title run, although it will be challenging both mentally and physically. A renowned shooter and a generational talent, this team will have their challenges without the guard.
If Paige Bueckers decides not to declare for the WNBA draft, perhaps we will see one full healthy season of stardom and partnership between these two incredibly talented women next season. As coach Auriemma stated, Fudd “loves the game and works tirelessly.”
We wish Azzi Fudd a healthy and speedy recovery.
Stay tuned for more WNBA and NCAAW articles. Click here
Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter at Ballislife, and Sports Content Creator on Twitch and TikTok. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.