After long consideration, I have decided to follow my childhood dream to play professional basketball next season.”
These were the words announced on Thursday from Oregon women's basketball junior Satou Sabally as she will forgo her senior season and declare for the 2020 WNBA Draft.
It was April of last year when Duck fans received the ultimate gift of Sabrina Ionescu announcing that she would forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft and return to Oregon for her senior season. I’m sure a lot of fans were hoping Sabally would do the same. The biggest pull for her to return to Oregon for one more season was the opportunity to play at the collegiate level with her younger sister Nyara, a redshirt freshman this season who has been injured these past two years.
But, according to the letter, this decision was carefully made with help of her family, who is very important to her.
It has been an amazing three years (with still some left to play) with Sabally in an Oregon uniform. She is a match-up nightmare for anyone on the court. A 6-foot-4 frame, slender with speed combined with strength and power, and good handles… how do you guard that?
Sabally was a crucial piece in what the Oregon women’s program has grown into these past few years.
The 2020 WNBA Draft is on April 17, 12 days after the national championship. According to the latest ESPN mock draft, Sabally is projected to be selected third overall by the Indiana Fever.
Earlier this month, Sabally was one of three Ducks in the top five of espnW’s midseason rankings of the nation’s top-25 players at No. 4, along with Sabrina Ionescu (No. 1) and Ruthy Hebard (No. 5).
All this to say, it's not really a surprise that Sabally would declare. This is an opportunity that she has always dreamt of and now it is time to strike while the iron is hot.
So what does this mean for the Ducks next season?
OUTLOOK ON THE 2020-2021 SEASON
The Ducks now lose four of their five starters heading into next season: Sabally, Sabrina Ionescu, Minyon Moore and Ruthy Hebard. That leaves Erin Boley as the consistent starter for the 2020-21 season.
Having only one returning starter is a tough feat, however, the talent coming off the bench speaks for itself: Taylor Chavez, Jaz Shelley, Holly Winterburn, Lucy Cochrane, Lydia Giomi and Morgan Yaeger along with Nyara Sabally (coming off injury) and Sedona Prince (forced to sit out this season by the NCAA).
Not to mention the incoming talent in Oregon’s 2020 recruiting class, the TOP recruiting class in 2020.
Five five-stars will be sporting green and yellow in Eugene next year.
Angela Dugalic, 6-foot-4 forward from Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Illinois.
- First-Team Illinois All-State selection in 2019
- Led Maine West High School to a 35-0 record and the 2019 Illinois 4A State Championship
Te-Hina Paopao, 5-foot-9 guard from La Jolla Country Day School in Oceanside, California.
- First-Team All-San Diego selection 2018-19
- 2019 Coastal League Player of the Year
Sydney Parrish, 6-foot-2 guard from Hamilton Southeastern High School from Fishers, Indiana.
- 2019 Indiana Gatorade State Player of the Year
- Led Hamilton Southeastern High School to the 2019 Indiana 4A State Championship
Maddie Scherr, 5-foot-11 guard from Ryle High School in Florence, Kentucky.
- 2019 Gatorade State Player of the Year
- Led Ryle High School to its first ever Kentucky State Championship (all classifications) in 2019
Kylee Watson, 6-foot-4 forward from Mainland High School in Linwood, New Jersey
- Two-time USA Today First-Team All-New Jersey (2018, 2019)
- Led Mainland HS to the 2019 New Jersey State Championship
The loss of Sabally is tough. Not only did she bring skill and talent on both ends of the court, but also leadership in the locker room. One could argue that both Taylor Chavez and Jaz Shelley could be in a starting role on another D-1 level team, they are that good. And then you have Sedona Prince, the 6-foot-7 phenom who has to sit out this year per the NCAA, who Duck fans are chomping at the bit to see her play with her size and skill.
Having a player like Sabally on the court and in the locker room only makes your team better, but head coach Kelly Graves will have another big pair of shoes to fill next season with her departure for the WNBA.