Sabrina Ionescu will take her triple-double mastery throughout the nation.
The Oregon guard was chosen No. 1 general by the New York Liberty within the WNBA draft Friday. Ionescu, who has been the presumptive high decide within the 2020 draft since she returned to Oregon for her senior season, was chosen because the league did a “digital” draft on ESPN; draftees had been of their properties, as was WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert whereas asserting the picks, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have been working for this for my whole basketball profession and tremendous excited to see that come to fruition,” Ionescu stated from her house in California. “I am very humbled and excited for the chance.”
Maybe in an early signal of what’s to return by way of merchandising clout and recognition with Ionescu, her followers rushed to the workforce’s web site to snap up her new Liberty jersey, which bought out inside an hour of her being drafted No. 1.
In the meantime, Geese teammate Satou Sabally was chosen with the second general decide by the Dallas Wings. It is simply the fourth time within the historical past of the WNBA draft that the highest two picks had been from the identical program.
Sabally was additionally certainly one of three German gamers chosen within the draft, together with middle Luisa Geiselsoder (No. 21 to Dallas) and capturing guard Leonie Fiebich (No. 22 to Los Angeles).
“German tradition in Dallas is rising and I am simply tremendous excited,” stated Sabally, who later acquired a shoutout on Twitter from countrymate Dirk Nowitzki.
I will be there quickly! Cannot wait https://t.co/rkHHyG169y
— Satou Sabally (@BallySatou) April 18, 2020
Baylor’s Lauren Cox went third to Indiana and Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter was the fourth decide by Atlanta. Dallas took Bella Alarie with the fifth decide. The Princeton star was solely the second Ivy League participant to be drafted that prime; Harvard’s Allison Feaster was additionally chosen fifth, within the 1998 draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.
“I used to be actually nervous, and eventually listening to my identify known as calmed these nerves,” Cox stated. “My sisters threw confetti on me, we hugged it out and actually made probably the most of it.”
Minnesota chosen Mikiah Herbert Harrigan out of South Carolina with the sixth decide. Dallas drafted South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris seventh general, and Chicago took Oregon ahead Ruthy Hebard eighth, the third Geese participant drafted within the first spherical. Hebard had a “car parade” in her hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, in celebration of her choice.
“We’re all so excited for one another,” Ionescu stated. “We have been speaking to one another this complete time and simply excited to see the place they go. She (Hebard) deserves it and so does Satou — simply actually blessed to have this chance.”
New York took UConn ahead Megan Walker ninth, and Phoenix chosen Jocelyn Willoughby 10th. The Mercury then traded the Virginia wing to New York for Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.
Latvian sharpshooter Kitija Laksa went 11th to Seattle.
The Liberty rounded out the primary spherical by choosing Louisville guard Jazmine Jones, the third first-round decide New York will be capable to pair with Ionescu subsequent season.
“Being part of a youthful workforce and making an attempt to study from them and see the place I slot in and what position I’ll play is thrilling,” Ionescu stated. “I plan on bringing the aggressive spirit I’ve, and I am simply excited to get there with the workforce and use my platform and proceed what I did at Oregon and produce that in to the Liberty.”
Ionescu had an NCAA-record 26 triple-doubles in her Geese profession, and have become the primary participant in males’s or girls’s basketball to hit the two,000-1,000-1,000 plateau in factors (2,562), rebounds (1,040) and assists (1,091).
Ionescu reached the ultimate milestone, in rebounding, in a Feb. 24 victory at Stanford. Earlier that day in Los Angeles, she spoke on the memorial of her mentor, former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was killed alongside along with his daughter and 7 others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
“I feel it’s essential look no additional than the best way that she’s dealt with herself in occasions of disaster to know what kind of a pacesetter she is,” stated new Liberty coach Walt Hopkins, who was employed in January. “And what kind of chief she may very well be on the subsequent degree.”
This previous season, Ionescu averaged 17.5 factors, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists whereas capturing 51.8% from the sector, 39.2% from 3-point vary and 92.1% from the road. She began each recreation for the 31-2 Geese, who gained the Pac-12 regular-season and event titles. She led Oregon to 2 Elite Eights and one Ultimate 4 look throughout her four-year profession there.
Ionescu is the primary participant from Oregon chosen No. 1 within the WNBA draft, and the fifth participant from the Pac-12 courting again to the primary No. 1 choice, USC’s Tina Thompson in 1997 by Houston. The others had been Stanford’s Ogwumike sisters, Nneka (2012, Los Angeles) and Chiney (2014, Connecticut), and Washington’s Kelsey Plum (2017, San Antonio, now Las Vegas).
It was the primary time the Liberty, one of many unique franchises when the WNBA launched in 1997, have had the No. 1 choice. The franchise was owned by Madison Sq. Backyard Co.’s James Dolan earlier than it was placed on sale close to the tip of 2017. Brooklyn Nets proprietor Joseph Tsai purchased the Liberty earlier than the 2019 season, and they’re scheduled to play in Barclays Middle this season. The Liberty additionally underwent a emblem redesign this week to extra intently resemble the Nets.
“I’ve solely been to New York twice, however I am actually excited to have the ability to get to Brooklyn and simply benefit from the metropolis and begin enjoying,” Ionescu stated.
Ionescu rapidly turns into the Liberty’s signature participant, as former UConn star Tina Charles, the 2012 WNBA MVP, was traded Wednesday to Washington. That three-team deal, which additionally included the Wings, boosted the Liberty’s variety of picks Friday to 6: Nos. 1, 9, 12, 13, 15 and 26.
There was little doubt Ionescu could be the highest decide; she was additionally projected to go first as a draft-eligible junior in 2019 earlier than opting to return to Oregon in pursuit of a nationwide championship. The Geese did not get that likelihood due to the cancellation of the NCAA event. It was a crushing blow to seniors throughout the nation, however the draft allowed for a chance to look ahead — though it is unsure when, or if, the WNBA will be capable to have its season in 2020.
The league’s 24th season was scheduled to start out Might 15 however has been postponed.
Ionescu acquired a style of enjoying in opposition to the professionals in November, when the Geese beat the U.S. nationwide workforce 93-86 in an exhibition in Eugene, Oregon. Whereas the U.S. did not discipline its full nationwide workforce, it was nonetheless a set of a few of the WNBA’s greatest gamers, in opposition to whom Ionescu had 30 factors and 7 assists.
She stated she is aware of that as a No. 1 decide she’ll have lots of eyes on her — and veterans seeking to problem her.
“I’ve had a goal on my again for the final 4 years, so it isn’t going to be something new,” Ionescu stated in a Zoom teleconference earlier than the draft. “I am simply excited to study from [veterans] and make some friendships alongside the best way. I do know that it will be tough, however I am excited for the problem to go in opposition to a few of the greatest gamers on this planet.”
The Related Press contributed to this report.