Sabrina Ionescu finished her high school career as the MaxPreps National Player of the Year, and she’s done nothing but live up to that reputation at Oregon.
The California native started her college career with freshman of the year awards from the Pac-12 Conference and United States Basketball Writers Association, an All-Pac-12 nod and trip to the Elite Eight. She followed that with another Elite Eight season as a sophomore, numerous first team All-America nods and the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. Not to mention, the Nancy Lieberman Award for the nation’s best point guard.
And as a junior Ionescu is poised to accomplish it all again, if not more, as she leads a third-ranked Oregon squad that’s among the favorites to win the NCAA title.
“Being able to play the sport I love and go to school at the same time has been a blessing.” @OregonWBB junior Sabrina Ionescu shares the opportunities college basketball provides her and her family. #ncaaW pic.twitter.com/9TcDnwjtRI— NCAA Women’s Basketball (@ncaawbb) December 21, 2018
“I think our coaches believed in this when they recruited us here and they thought we could get to the level that we’re at and even exceed the level that we’re at right now,” Ionescu said. “I’ve just honestly been enjoying the process and having fun every day and trying to get better with my team. Just living in the moment.”
Ionescu is leaving a legacy. These five stats help show why:
1.) She has an NCAA-record 16 career triple-doubles
Ionescu broke the women’s NCAA record for career triple-doubles as a sophomore when she tallied her eighth, topping the previous total of seven held jointly by Penn State’s Suzie McConnell and Saint Mary’s Louella Tomlinson. She surpassed the men’s record of 12 (BYU's Kyle Collinsworth) this season, too. And Ionescu just kept going.
The Ducks star is up to 16 with six triple-doubles this season. If she keeps up the pace and returns for her senior season, she could finish college with far more than 20.
2.) She already has a school-record 665 career assists
Ionescu needed just two and a half seasons to break Oregon’s program record for career assists. Lauri Landerholm (1982-87) recorded the previous high of 607. Ionescu surpassed Landerholm in a Jan. 11 win against Southern California, and she continues to widen the gap.
HISTORY FOR IONESCU: Oregon's Ionescu breaks DI record for career triple-doubles
Ionescu now has 665 assists, as of Feb. 4. She leads the nation with 184 on the season with an average of 8.4 per game. Ionescu could finish with more than 300 this season if she holds her average, stays healthy and Oregon plays at least 38 games like in last year's Elite Eight run.
It's worth noting that teammate and senior Maite Cazorla also passed Landerholm’s record this season. Cazorla started the year with 45 more career assists than Ionescu and currently has 632. But it took her until Jan. 20 to reach 608 for her career.
3.) Ionescu recorded 17 assists in a single game this year
Ionescu twice matched Oregon’s program record for assists in a game — 14 — before she dished out 17 dimes on Dec. 2 against Long Beach State. Ionescu’s finished with at least 10 assists in a game on 25 occasions, 16 of which came as part of a triple-double. She finished with a single-season program record of 298 assists as a sophomore last year.
The Wonder Ducks @OregonWBB are back! Banners around campus are championing the “Forces of Nature”. So cool that our university backs my team so much #FlyWithUs #WonderDucks pic.twitter.com/Eg0HBrBpx2— Kelly Graves (@GoDucksKG) January 29, 2019
The individual records keep piling up for Ionescu. But when asked what her favorite memories at Oregon have been, she talked about team accomplishments first and foremost.
“Making the Elite Eight the first year and then making the Elite Eight the second year and winning the Pac-12 championship in conference play,” Ionescu said. “Beating some good teams in post-conference and then now just having a great game against Mississippi State and just having won great games and even lost some games that have ended up making us better is something that I’ve definitely liked.”
4.) She scored 748 points in one season — another Oregon record
Ionescu is an unselfish player. Her assist totals prove as much. But she isn’t just a distributor. Ionescu also owns the top spot in program history for points in a season with 748.
Ionescu failed to score in double figures just twice last season. She averaged 19.7 points per game, scored a career-high 36 points against Stanford to guide Oregon to a Pac-12 tournament championship and shot 43.8 percent on 3s. It was a significant step up from a freshman season that saw her average just 14.6 points per game and score 481 total points. Oregon won the Pac-12 regular season title, too.
Ionescu could join Gonzaga great Courtney Vandersloot in the 2,000-point, 1,000-assist club next season if she returns for a final season in Eugene.
5.) Her 75 career wins
Ionescu missed a four-game stretch in the middle of her freshman season but hasn't missed a game since, amassing 93 career starts. With her in the lineup, the Ducks are 75-18. Further displaying her durability, Ionescu has averaged 34.4 minutes per game over the course of her career.
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Oregon is 21-1 so far this season after going 33-5 last season and 23-14 (including 2-2 without her) her freshman year. The 33 wins in 2017-18 are the most ever in a single season in program history, and the feat came just five years after the Ducks finished 4-27.
Don’t be surprised if Oregon tops that mark this season. The Ducks are right in the middle of a crowded group of national championship contenders.
To my team, THANK YOU! To the people that continue to criticize me, THANK YOU! All glory to the man above🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/licBtl5Yxe— Sabrina Ionescu (@sabrina_i20) December 20, 2018
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