Sabrina Ionescu will return for her senior season with Oregon women's basketball.
Speculation about Ionescu's future swirled even before the Ducks' season ended in the Final Four against Baylor, and many thought she seemed destined to declare for the 2019 WNBA Draft. But Saturday night she released a piece in The Players' Tribune saying otherwise.
"We have unfinished business," Ionescu wrote. "And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. My teammates and I, our coaches, our fans, this program — we’re not going on a 'run,' you know what I mean?? We’re not doing one of those things where, like, a team appears out of the blue, on the backs of a few good players, and then makes some noise for a season or two before heading back underground. Nah. This isn’t that. We’re building something here in Eugene."
Ionescu averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game as a junior. She was a consensus All-American, All-Pac-12, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a Naismith Trophy finalist. And this was just another solid year from the two-time Nancy Lieberman Award winner.
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See, Ionescu is the NCAA career leader for triple doubles, men or women, with 18. She has career averages of 18.2 points, 7.3 assists and 6.9 rebounds in 109 career starts. The Ducks are 89-24 her three years with the program, only four games played without her, and reached the Elite Eight her freshman and sophomore seasons before this year's Final Four trip.
Ionescu also holds Oregon records for career assists with 792, single-season assists with 311, single-game assists with 17 and single-season points with 755. If she continues on this pace she would finish with more than 2,000 points, more than 1,000 assists and more than 1,000 rebounds in her career. At this point, in addition to her nearly 800 assists she has 1,984 points and 756 rebounds.
"We’d be lucky to draw 1,000 fans that first year," wrote Ionescu, thinking back to her freshman season. "Now we’re drawing…. I think we averaged almost 7,000 fans per home game this year. And then add to that — we have people like Steph Curry, Shea Serrano and LeBron James shouting us out, and climbing on the bandwagon?! Something is happening here."
And what's one thing that'll fuel her next season? Ionescu was recently featured in a show that runs on ESPN+ called Detail, which is hosted by former NBA great Kobe Bryant.
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"Kobe scouting me that well? Mamba having me figured out? That’s not a diss. What that was — is a challenge," Ionescu wrote. "That’s Kobe saying to me, I think, O.K., I SEE YOU. I see you, and I like what you’re showing me. But now you’ve got to show me something extra. Now it’s time for you to take this All-American game, this Final Four game, this hot prospect game, this Oregon Women’s Basketball program-leading game….. and take it to the next, next level. The level that no one sees coming. That’s how you go from good to great. That’s how you go from contender to champion."
Oh, and she promised the WNBA she'll see it real soon.