This piece does not reflect the views of the Minnesota Lynx front office.
Sabrina Ionescu: 5’11, G, University of Oregon
College Stats in 2019-20:
32 games, 33.7 MPG, 17.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 9.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 51.6 FG%, 38.7 3P%, 91.8 FT%
Where she’ll go:
It would be considered basketball malpractice if Ionescu wasn’t selected as the No. 1 overall draft pick.
Talent is always topped. A new player eventually comes in and is believed to be the next greatest thing, shadowing over their predecessors. But it’s hard to imagine that Ionescu’s game will ever be outdone once she moves on from college basketball.
The 2018-19 Wooden Award winner could have easily declared for the 2019 draft after her junior season, but being the competitor she is, was swayed to return to the University of Oregon for her senior season after the Ducks were defeated by Baylor in last year’s Final Four.
Unfortunately, Ionescu never got the chance to take care of her team’s “unfinished business” with the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic. But she made her mark on college basketball, and the lack of an NCAA title won’t undermine her impact on the game.
A player such as Ionescu was probably the prototype of player James Naismith had in mind when he invented basketball. When Ionescu plays, it’s as if the basketball is just another part of her body she can control as she pleases. She can transition from racing down the court to pulling up for an off-the-dribble jump shot in a matter of seconds and she seems to have a sixth sense for throwing dimes and tracking down rebounds. She stands tall amongst fellow guard at 5’11 and her physicality allows her to hang tough when dueling with larger players.
One of the greatest feats of Ionescu’s illustrious career was earning the triple-double record in college basketball. Ionescu recorded 26 triple-doubles over the course of her career; BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth comes in second with 12, and no women’s player has more than nine.
She also became the only college basketball player to ever record 2,000 career points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists on Feb. 24 — the day she also gave a moving eulogy for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at their memorial. The maturity and grace she showed that day go way beyond what any box score can tell you about the player and person she is.
All this and some have still questioned whether her game will transfer to the WNBA. They’ve seemingly forgotten that Ionescu led her Ducks squad to a thrilling victory over the U.S. national team with her 30-point, seven-assist performance in November.
That skepticism along with being deprived of one final March Madness run will only fuel Ionescu as she enters her rookie WNBA season. The former Duck took college basketball by storm and it won’t be long until she’s doing the same amongst the pros.