With the first pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft, the New York Liberty select Sabrina Ionescu form Oregon.
These were the words Ionescu heard Friday night as she was officially drafted into the WNBA. But this wasn’t news to anybody. It was known years ago that Ionescu was going to be the first pick. Her resume in college is next to none as she put together one of the best college careers, regardless of gender.
So let’s spotlight her colleges career before she kicks off what should be an impressive pro career.
Early Life on the Playground
The New York Post published an article on Ionescu, detailing her life in basketball. Here is an excerpt from the article that detailed why she became so adamant at developing each phase of the game.
“The assists were her ticket onto the court. The boys at the neighborhood park wanted someone to pass it to them, so to make sure she would get picked, the young girl obliged.
The rebounds were her chance to get the ball in her own hands for once, so she learned to crash the offensive glass — more likely aluminum or wood — with a vengeance.
And the points? Those helped ensure that her team won so that Sabrina Ionescu could not only get on the court but stay there, the place where her basketball legend and trademark competitive fire was born.”
When you see that type of dedication to just get on the court at a young age, you can begin to understand how she became one of the best college players of all time.
Freshman Year at Oregon
As a Freshman, Ionescu averaged 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, ranking second on the team in scoring and rebounding, and first in assists. She recorded 7 double-doubles, which ranked 3rd in the Pac-12. Her 183 assists ranked 29th in the NCAA.
As a result of her outstanding play, she was named the 2017 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year as voted on by league coaches. She became the first Oregon Duck since 1999 and just the second Duck to earn the honor all-time.
She was also awarded the USBWA National Freshman of the Year as the top freshman in the nation.
Sophomore Season: Raised Level of Play
In her sophomore campaign, Ionescu raised her level of play. She led the Pac-12 in both scoring and assists as she averaged 19.2 points, and 7.8 assists. She recorded 16 double-doubles and 14 20-point games during the season. Ionescu also had 13 games in which she recorded 10+ assists, including a season high of 14 assists on two separate occasions.
Following her impressive Sophomore season, Ionescu was named the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, and was also named a first team All-American by ESPN. She was named the winner of the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top Division I women’s point guard
She also led the Oregon Ducks to winning the Pac-12 Championship, the teams first since 2000. Ionescu became NCAA women’s all-time leader in triple-doubles, trailing only former BYU men’s player Kyle Collinsworth (with 12) among all NCAA players.
Junior Year: Ionescu Sets the NCAA Record for Triple-Doubles
Ionescu started off her Junior year on fire. Once again taking her level of play to a new level. But the season highlight was during a game on December 20th, 2018.
On that day Ionescu recorded her 13th triple-double in a game against Air Force. This broke the NCAA triple-double record for both men and women basketball. However, Ionescu was not done stuffing the stat sheet. Ionescu would add five more triple doubles over the course fo the season, for a total of 8 on the season. When you take into account that the previous record for triple doubles in a college career was just 12, you then realize how dominant of a campaign Ionescu had.
In the NCAA Tournament, Ionescu leads the Ducks to their first Final Four appearance after defeating Mississippi State 88–84. Ionescu scored 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and a steal in the game. However the Ducks would lose their Final Four game to the eventual National Champion Baylor.
Senior Year: Saying Goodbye to College and Kobe Bryant
Ionescu’s senior year was a culmination of years of productivity dedication, and ultimately sadness. While Ionescu would reach ultimate highs, she also experienced some devastating losses.
In the Ducks’ 74–66 win at #4 Stanford, Ionescu became the first NCAA player ever with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in a career. This cemented her legacy as one of the best to ever take the college floor.
Prior to that historic game, Ionescu was grieving the loss of her mentor and idol, Kobe Bryant. She had been chosen by Vanessa Bryant to be a guest speaker at the memorial service for Kobe Bryant and Gigi. Here is a clip of her speech.
Ionescu’s senior career was cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This meant she never got one final chance to bring the national championship to Oregon. But what she did achieve in her college career is nothing short of spectacular.
Career Averages: 18.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.5 steals
- 1st Division I player to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebound, 1,000 assists
- Most Triple Doubles in NCAA History
- Pac-12 Conference all-time leader in assists
- Oregon’s all-time leading scorer
- #1 Pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft