“Man… forever my son”: UConn star Paige Bueckers leaves a heartwarming message for Ines Bettencourt amid NCAA transfer portal decision

Paige Bueckers (left); Ines Bettencourt (right)Paige Bueckers (left); Ines Bettencourt (right)

Paige Bueckers was not among the list of talented players to enter the 2024 WNBA draft, instead opting to return to the UConn Huskies with the hopes of winning a national championship. While UConn figures to be stacked next season, one player who will not return to the program is Ines Bettencourt.

The sophomore guard announced her decision to enter the transfer portal in an Instagram post on Monday:

“Thank you UConn Nation for these past 2 years. Being able to come from my small island in Portugal to the United States for the first time at 17 is something I would have never dreamed of.”

She continued:

“To my coaches, I want to thank you for taking a chance on me when no one else would. To my teammates, thank you for accepting me into this amazing family and to UConn Nation you guys have been some of the biggest supporters during my time at UConn.

“I will always hold a place in my heart for this amazing experience and cannot wait to see what chapter is next for me! Thank you UConn! – Ines Bettencourt”

Check out Ines Bettencourt’s announcement below:

Bueckers was among several Huskies to respond to the post:

“Man… forever my son 🥹 I love you my child, go be great 💙”

Bettencourt appeared in 53 games over two seasons as a member of the Huskies, however, she made just one start. She averaged 1.0 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.1 blocks in just 7.2 minutes per game while shooting 31.7% from the field, 23.8% from 3-point range and 70.0% from the free-throw line.

Why did Paige Bueckers opt against entering 2024 WNBA draft?

Bueckers likely would have been among the top picks in the 2024 WNBA draft. The senior guard has opted to forgo the draft and return to the UConn Huskies. She announced her decision during UConn’s senior night in February and expanded on it while speaking with SNY:

“Just the family camaraderie here, just loving it here, loving my teammates, loving my coaches, me not having the four years that I planned on, not being able to play as much.

“I just feel like I’m not done yet here. I feel like God is still writing my story here. I’m just blessed to be a part of this program, and I never want it to end.” [h/t ESPN]

After spending the previous two seasons banged up, missing 2022-23 altogether, Bueckers played a pivotal role in the Huskies reaching the Final Four.

The 2021 national College Player of the Year averaged 21.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 53.0% from the field, 41.6% from 3-point range and 83.4% from the free-throw line.

Furthermore, she earned unanimous first-team All-American honors for the second time.

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