Kevin Ollie: UConn hoops star wins NCAA men’s volleyball award

Connors talks about the surprise of switching from hoops to volleyball

UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie said Friday that junior, defensive end Paige Bueckers will miss more than eight weeks after surgery to repair a right hip injury suffered during a volleyball game on Wednesday night.

The 6-6, 260-pound Bueckers got a bib by his right hip in the first set of the second game of the Friends Regional Park Volleyball tournament at UConn-Amherst.

The game was stopped when he fell on the court and received a second medical evaluation at UConn-Amherst.

After visiting with team trainer Chaz Wright, Bueckers underwent surgery Thursday in Hartford.

“The surgeon, Dr. (Ryu) Kim, made sure that there were no structural damage to his hip. That makes me feel good,” Ollie said in a statement. “That and the way he is doing so far following surgery, which is a major surgery.

“Our next step is rehab. They are going to track his soreness and soreness for the next week and try to give him more strength to build the rest of his frame. We are excited to have him back but we are doing our best to work with him for a full recovery.”

The Shepaug Valley and Cross Country standout was honored as a semifinalist for the WBCA All-America second team after an outstanding freshman season.

He recorded a team-leading 17 tackles and played a big role in the Huskies’ success in the spring, on which he worked to become a better all-around player.

Bueckers helped UConn win the Big East and national titles while he was in Collegeville.

Bueckers was named to the All-America Men’s Volleyball Freshman Team. The Huskies, who finished the season ranked No. 1 nationally, shared a share of the Big East Championship with Pittsburgh, winning the Big East Tournament by beating the Panthers.

Bueckers’ development as a player is part of a major roster overhaul this summer for the Huskies, who were the No. 1 team in the nation last season and have been to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven seasons.

Former NFL defensive lineman Kevin Williams is returning to UConn for his senior season after being an assistant coach at the school.

UConn football coach Bob Diaco said during the summer that he wants to find a new home for former Chicago Bears wide receiver Brad Smith, who is no longer part of the team. He said he wants Smith, who didn’t play last season, to play football again.

Smith had played only 12 snaps the last three seasons, including just four in the last two. He caught two passes for 32 yards as a rookie in 2010, but fell out of favor in the Windy City.

When Smith was released at the end of the offseason, his agent said he was speaking with other teams.

The 6-5, 240-pound Smith began his NFL career by breaking tight end Kellen Winslow’s NFL rookie records in receptions (76) and receiving yards (960). Smith also set an NFL record by returning an interception 97 yards for a touchdown against New Orleans.

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo contributed to this report.

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