May 26, 2024

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.

Fudd suffered the noncontact injury last week in practice when, according to coach Geno Auriemma, she went up for a shot and afterward remarked that it felt funny. She missed No. 6 UConn’s past two games against Maryland and Minnesota, both wins, watching from the bench.

“We’re all just so upset for Azzi,” Auriemma said in a statement. “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. We’ll obviously miss her presence on the court, but Azzi will continue to be a great teammate and important part of this team this season. Our program will support Azzi through her recovery however we can.”

Fudd, a junior, will have surgery at UConn Health at a later date, the school said.

Although she would be age-eligible for the WNBA draft next year, Fudd told ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo before she was injured that she planned to return to UConn for the 2024-25 season.

The tears are the latest injury for the No. 1 recruit from the Class of 2021 and former Gatorade National Player of the Year. She missed 11 games as a freshman because of foot issues before being sidelined for all but 15 games her sophomore season because of right knee injuries. Fudd returned in time for the postseason, where the Huskies were upset in the Sweet 16, snapping their streak of 14 consecutive Final Four appearances.

Fudd tore the ACL and MCL in her right knee in April 2019.

She is the second UConn player to tear her ACL over the past 15 months, following Paige Bueckers‘ August 2022 injury that caused her to miss the 2022-23 season. Redshirt freshman center Jana El Alfy is also out for the season after her Achilles ruptured in July.

Expectations were high internally and externally that Fudd, who has averaged 13.1 points in 42 games in Storrs, would have her most impactful season yet while playing alongside Bueckers. But the pair of highly regarded recruits will have played only 17 games together over three seasons because of injuries.

“We’ve always handled [injuries] really, really, really well,” Auriemma said last week when asked about the potential of Fudd’s long-term absence. “We’ve always been pretty resilient. For us to win 31 games last year, given what we went through, they respond, they don’t pout. They really don’t.

“So when I said, ‘Hey, we’re just going to have to figure this one out,’ it changes your rotation obviously, it changes maybe the way you want to play. It certainly changes your offense.”

Added Bueckers: “Nobody’s going to be Azzi, but we can all do stuff that contributes to filling her void and making sure that we’re accounting for her and doing all the little things.”

UConn has two strong nonconference matchups this week against No. 2 UCLA on Friday and reigning WNIT champion Kansas on Saturday as part of the Cayman Islands Classic.

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