The 2017-2018 season became the culmination of the type of player Sabrina Ionescu will inevitably be while she is a member of the Oregon Ducks program. Able to help lead Oregon to its second straight Elite Eight appearance, her last campaign only begins scratch the surface of her story.
Ionescu led the program to its first Pac-12 conference championship since 2000. The 5-foot-11 guard was one of the nation’s best guards this past season. Her sophomore campaign, bluntly put, is a sign of things to come.
Head coach Kelly Graves is enjoying a front row seat watching what Ionescu has been doing — and he’s as much a fan as are loyal Oregon supporters.
Speaking to ESPNW’s Mechelle Voepel, Graves stated, “I think she’s equally good at all skills. But her ability to rebound at her size against the kids she’s doing it against … I mean, how’s she getting double-digit rebounds against some of the teams she does? But ultimately, I think her vision is the biggest thing. She is really great at setting somebody up.”
Sabrina Ionescu had a very successful overall season, largely playing the role of Swiss army knife for the Ducks.
She averaged 19.7 points, 7.8 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game. Ionescu was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and the Nancy Lieberman National Point Guard of the Year. The rising junior was named an All-American by the USBWA, USA Today, ESPNW and the Wooden Award.
The young guard had countless other accomplishments this. Specifically, one of her biggest accomplishments was becoming the women’s college basketball leader in career triple doubles with 10.
Unfortunately, for the time being, she trails Kyle Collinsworth (12 triple doubles) of BYU for the all-time lead.
Ionescu has come to Oregon, setting up a treasure trove of highlights along the first two years. She realizes that there are numerous spectators who want to see her succeed.
While speaking with Voepel, the Associated Press All-American said, “I know there are some people cheering me on who like to watch me because of how competitive I am and how I want to win. I love inspiring youth, and all the kids who want pictures after the game. Just to be able to interact and talk to people; I don’t take that for granted.”
Being at Oregon has opened the door for more successful advancements. All of the success she is experiencing began with her time growing up in Walnut Creek, California. Together, with her brother Eddy, the twins would run up and down the concrete courts winning games.
His teammates were confused as to why he picked Sabrina. They soon realized how talented she really is.
Speaking to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian, Eddy noted, “We ended up winning. I was like, go thank her.”
Eventually, Ionescu would go on to Miramonte High School, excelling at the sport. The Jordan Brand All-American was tough as nails, training with the football team and the results were endless: The San Fransisco Chronicle’s two-time Metro Player of the Year, Max Preps National Player of the Year, McDonald’s All-American, California’s Gatorade State Player of the Year.
Her youth coach and head coach at Miramonte Kelly Sopak immediately recognized Ionescu’s talent and put her to work.
“I pushed her at every turn and on every angle,” Sopak said, speaking to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I threatened to kick her off the team a hundred times and told her how terrible she was.”
Ultimately, Ionescu answered every challenge. Earning a spot at Oregon, her Freshman year for Ducks was the beginning of the player we see in Eugene today. Averaging 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists, Ionescu won abundant Freshman of the Year awards (USBWA, ESPNW, Pac-12) and earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 team and All-Pac-12 Freshman team.
Quickly, the triple doubles started to pile up. Tallying up four triple doubles, Ionescu set the record for triple doubles by a freshman.
For this reason, Sabrina Ionescu is “The Second Coming of Russell Westbrook”. The 2018-2019 season will be another stepping stone for Ionescu and the Oregon Ducks. Looking to improve on the success of last season, the Wade Trophy finalist will be on the move.
Ionescu is looking to lead this program to the next step and her first two years are a preview of what is in store for this gifted college basketball player.
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