Oregon Ducks

FULL VIDEO Sabrina Ionescu speaks at Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial

FULL VIDEO Sabrina Ionescu speaks at Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial

It's been less than a month since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others tragically passed away in a helicopter accident on January 26, 2020. 

Less than two hours before Sabrina Ionescu and the Oregon Ducks were going to play then-No. 9 Oregon State on the road, both teams learned about the passing of Kobe and his daughter. The two teams shared a moment of silence shortly after.

The Ducks, especially Ionescu, had spent time with the Bryants and gotten close to in the past year. Kobe and Gianna attended multiple Ducks games when Oregon traveled to California.

Wearing Kobe's signature shoe with "Forever 24" written on the heels, Ionescu would play all 40 minutes of the Civil War and leave victorious to sweep the season series against Oregon State.

After the game, Sabrina dedicated the rest of the season to Kobe in a postgame interview with ESPN.

I mean, everything I do, I do it for him obviously. Really close friend and this season’s for him.

Staples Center hosted a public memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant on 2/24 in honor of Kobe and Gianna's basketball numbers of No. 2 and No 24.

At the memorial, Ionescu gave an emotional speech about how both of them had greatly affected her. She started off the speech detailing the first time she met them when they surprised the Ducks by sitting courtside when they played at USC. Ionescu thought the surprise was going to be "Nike sent us some new shoes or swag or something."

When Kobe, Gianna and two of her teammates entered the arena, "they sat courtside while [Sabrina's] jaw sat dropped." 

After the game, they visited the Ducks locker room and Kobe gave them advice she's never forgotten. 

He congratulated me on the win that day and our season up until that point, but then said, and I'll never forget, 'Don't shoot yourselves in the foot.' He meant don't settle. Keep grinding, Control what you can.

Ionescu also remembered watching Gianna smile in the locker room and that Sabrina had watched film on her: "She had a fadeaway better than mine." However, Ionescu knew that Gianna was more than just a basketball prodigy, she was the future of the women's game.

If I represented the present of the women's game, Gigi was the future and Kobe knew it. So we decided to build a future together.

Sabrina would work out twice with Gianna and Kobe over the summer.

"I loved watching how hard she worked and how much her teammates loved her, but also her own desire to be great. She always wanted to learn, to go to every game she could: college, NBA, WNBA. Kobe was helping her with that because he saw it in her. Just like he saw it in me.

"His vision for others is always bigger than what they imagine for themselves. His vision for me was way bigger than my own. More importantly, he didn't show up in my life and leave. He stayed. We kept in touch, always texting, calling, game visits. I'd drop a triple-double and have a text from him 'Another triple-double I see' with a flex emoji. Another game another text: 'Yo beast mode' or 'Easy money'. I felt some pressure early on in the season and he wrote to me 'Be you. It's been good enough and that will continue to be good enough.'"

Kobe would teach Sabrina his stepback to put her game over the top and helped her with her footwork, a Kobe specialty: "'Real sharpness comes without effort' he said. ...He was giving me the blueprint. He was giving Gigi the same blueprint."

Kobe reassured Sabrina that her drive to be the best was an asset, not a curse. 

He united us. He made it so that the outsiders who outworked everyone else, who were driven to be just a little bit different every single day, to make those around them, behind them and above them a little bit better every single day. And they weren't the exception. They were the rule.

Sabrina, the face of women's college basketball, is doing it not only for herself, but also for the women that come after her. 

I wanted to be a part of the generation that changed basketball for Gigi and her teammates. Where being born female didn't mean being born behind. Where greatness wasn't divided by gender. 

Ionescu still texts Kobe despite his passing: "'Thank you for everything. The rest is for you. Rest easy my guy.' The last one I sent him said 'I miss you. May you rest in peace my dear friend.'" 

To close out her speech, Sabrina had an emotional plea to all those watching.

I ask each of you, every girldad, every human here with a voice, a platform, and a heart, to not let his sun set. Shine for us. For our sport where he once did. Invest in us with the same passion and drive and respect and love as he did his own daughter. In the end she was a sun just starting to rise and god did she glow. May their light forever shine. Kobe and Gigi I'll love you forever. Thank you.

Ionescu will travel to the Bay Area to play No. 4 Stanford tonight at 6:00 p.m. after the conclusion of the memorial.

You can watch the full interview embedded above.

Sabrina Ionescu, Steph Curry make the most of self-quarantine

Sabrina Ionescu, Steph Curry make the most of self-quarantine

The coronavirus pandemic won’t stop Sabrina Ionescu from getting some hoops in with Steph Curry.

The two GOATS are both quarantining in the Bay Area and luckily, they have one another to stay in tip-top shape. 

Don’t worry, they were 6-feet apart. See Sabrina’s recent Instagram post for evidence. 

Ionescu, who grew up in Walnut Creek, is expected to be the top pick in the WNBA’s virtual draft on Friday, April 17. 

She’s coming off a historic collegiate career at Oregon and completed a clean sweep of the major individual awards in college basketball, including the illustrious John R. Wooden Award, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding player. 

Over the past few years, Ionescu’s developed a close relationship with mentor Curry. The Warriors star cheered on Ionescu and the Ducks as the triple-double queen became the only player in NCAA history to record 2,000 career points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

"It's pretty amazing to see her set new levels of expectation for what greatness is, not just for women's basketball but for basketball in general," Curry told ESPN. 

"She's blazing a trail nobody has set foot on." 

It takes one legend to recognize another. 

WATCH Sabrina Ionescu featured in Sabrina the "GOAT" independent film

WATCH Sabrina Ionescu featured in Sabrina the "GOAT" independent film

Sabrina Ionescu will leave Eugene a legend that'll be remembered forever, but her tale is not confined to the University of Oregon.

The GOAT has become a national sensation while in a Ducks uniform becoming the first player in NCAA history, men's or women's basketball, to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a college career. She's also the all-time leader in triple-doubles regardless of gender, by a large margin. 

It's no wonder that her status has spawned fans not only nationwide but across the globe, including in her parents' homeland: Romania. 

A new short film displays the global outreach of Ionescu's legend.

Okay, you got us. Sabrina Ionescu may not star in the film but Sabrina the goat does. And that's close enough. 

Plus, she put on the best performance from a goat since Black Phillip scared stan twitter in A24's The VVitch. That's easily worth the watch alone. 

Also, plenty of people were on the correct side of history praising the film.

The film was written by Michael Bishop. Directed and shot by Matt Wilcox & Blue Ox.

Bishop was one of the original members of Supwitchugirl, which became popular with their "I love my Ducks" song and slogan. 

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal and wife donate box lunches to Eugene police

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal and wife donate box lunches to Eugene police

Mario Cristobal and his wife Jessica realize there are many police officers working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Tuesday, the Oregon football coach and his family decided to give back to those local responders working the lunch shift at the Eugene Police Department. 

The Cristobals packed individual meals for police personnel, each containing this message: “Thank you for your selfless service to our community! We appreciate you! God bless and stay safe.”

The Eugene Police Department was taken back by the selfless gesture from the Ducks community and shared this thank you post on Twitter. 

“BIG THANKS to @oregonfootball, @coach_cristobal, @jesscristobaLLL, who donated these delicious box lunches today.The whole stack disappeared a short time after they arrived. We are grateful for your support.”

During a press conference with the media Friday, Cristobal expressed his appreciation for those who are serving the community during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"I've always had the ultimate respect for teachers and police officers and obviously doctors, nurses, practitioners, and now more than ever homeschooling is hard,” Cristobal said. “It's been quite the challenge but love the challenge and the opportunity that comes with that. I think everybody is reconnecting in a way that they never thought they would.”

Cristobal has certainly become one of the most beloved figures in the Eugene community. The third-year coach led Oregon to a Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin in 2019. The future is bright for Ducks football, but Cristobal knows in times like these, it’s all much bigger than football.

Oregon named in top 6 for four-star 2021 safety JD Coffey III

Oregon named in top 6 for four-star 2021 safety JD Coffey III

While all official visits have been canceled for the foreseeable future, the recruiting world has not stopped.

One day after Oregon was named one of the top-six schools for five-star wide receiver Troy Franklin, the Ducks have been added to another top-six.

247Sports four-star safety JD Coffey III tweeted out his top six, that included Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Baylor, and Texas.

The prospect told 247Sports that he was planning to make a decision before his senior season of high school football, but with the canceling of his official visits, he may not make that target date. He still plans to make five official visits, however, when able.

He took an unofficial visit to Oregon on March 10th right before all recruiting was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He's the 7th ranked safety in the nation according to 247Sports, the 31st ranked prospect in Texas and 186th nationally. Oregon hasn't had that much success lately recruiting out of Texas compared to California and Florida, so it's interesting they're in the running for Coffey III. 

Oregon sent him a scholarship offer on January 23rd of this year. 

You can watch his junior season highlights here:

 

Oregon becomes first school to have both of the nation's top point guards

Oregon becomes first school to have both of the nation's top point guards

Despite their senior seasons being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sabrina Ionescu and Payton Pritchard still made plenty of history.

That includes both of them winning the award given to the nation's best point guard: Pritchard winning the Bob Cousy Award and Ionescu winning her third-straight Nancy Lieberman Award. The honors have made the University of Oregon the first school in NCAA history to take home both awards and therefore becoming the first school ever to have the nation's best point guard in both men's and women's basketball.

Ionescu spoke to Pac-12 Network about what it means to her to see Pritchard get the national recognition he deserves.

That makes me so happy. Being able to come with him these last four years, I mean he's made me a better player just because everytime I go to workout at the gym whether it's 6:00 a.m. or 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. he's in there working out. We workout together. We bounce ideas off of eachother and I think we both make eachother better. He's one of the best point guards that I've seen and I've been blessed to spend these four years with him and learn from him and how hard he works. He's more deserving of this award than anyone that I know and so I'm so happy for him and for the school and to really, kind of share that award with him is awesome.

The kid out of West Linn averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds while leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 Championship and 24-7 overall record. While Ionescu averaged 17.5 points, 8.6. rebounds and 9.1 assists per game leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 Regular Season Championship, Pac-12 Tournament Championship, and the nation's second overall ranking.

This season, the all-time leader in triple-doubles became the first player ever to score 2,000 career points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds, ending her career as the program leader in wins points (2,562) and assists (1,091).

While Pritchard became the first player in Pac-12 men's history to record 1,900 points, 500 rebounds and 600 assists. Pritchard also capped off his career as the school record holder in assists (659), wins (105), games played (144) and games started (140). 

He joined Gary Payton, Damon Stoudamire and Jason Terry as the only players in conference history to lead the league in both scoring and assists. He also joins this illustrious cast as consensus first-team All-Americans.

Ionescu joins Sue Bird (2000-2002) as the second player in women’s NCAA history to win the Nancy Leiberman award on three occasions.  

Justin Herbert smashes away the doubters, one TV at a time

Justin Herbert smashes away the doubters, one TV at a time

Justin Herbert is a legend in Eugene. 

He rivals the likes of Joey Harrington and Marcus Mariota, as one of the greatest quarterbacks in program history. 

With his college days behind him, Herbert now moves forward as one of the most sought after prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft. 

Many NFL mock drafts have Herbert as a Top 10 prospect, likely being drafted No.5 or No.6 by the Dolphins or Chargers. 

But some experts still think he is a risk. 

From "I just don't believe he is one of the Top 10 players in the draft," to "He could potentially be one of the biggest mistakes of the draft," not everyone is 100% sold on Herbert... except Justin Herbert.

That's where smashing TVs come into play.

Herbert recently joined Sam Alipour of ESPN for a nice venting session. 

The two went to a Rage Room to take out their frustration. 

With a sledgehammer in hand, Herbert destroyed a TV... or ten.

On draft evaluator called Herbert, "unfailingly polite." Herbert's response: 

"I think I'm just myself but maybe I should start being more mean. I was pretty mean to my younger brother, Patrick... sorry Patrick."

The younger Herbert heard the apology and forgave his brother on social media. 

All fun aside, Herbert was honest about his prospects. He said he isn't a dual-threat quarterback but thinks of himself as a pass-first quarterback that can run when he needs to.

When asked who he would compare himself to, Herbert said "We watch a lot of Matt Ryan at Oregon. He's a guy that we try to implement a lot of his stuff into our program. We watch a lot of Drew Brees and Tom Brady as well for mechanics and throwing motion." 

That would be a pretty good quarterback to grab in the draft. 

30 teams will have a chance, but only one will be lucky enough to call Eugene's finest their own. 

Where will Herbert land? We'll find out on April 23rd. 

 

Oregon Ducks makes top 6 for five-star 2021 WR Troy Franklin

Oregon Ducks makes top 6 for five-star 2021 WR Troy Franklin

Despite all team operations being canceled due to the spread of COVID-19, that doesn't mean the recruiting timeline has frozen too.

247Sports five-star wide receiver Troy Franklin, one of the Oregon Ducks' top targets for 2021, has announced his top-six choices which includes enrolling in Eugene. 

Oregon's five lead competitors for Franklin's commitment are Alabama, Washington, USC, LSU and Arizona State. The 6-foot-2 California native appears to either be staying near the West Coast in the Pac-12 or will be heading east to the SEC East. 

The announcement comes a month after Franklin visited Eugene for the second time during the first weekend of March. 

He had visited Eugene on an unofficial visit on July 28, 2019 

The Ducks would have reason to be confident with Mario Cristobal leading the program which has resulted in securing the top commitment in California the past two recruiting cycles. Franklin currently ranks as California's fourth-best recruit and the 30th overall prospect in the nation. However, the inclusion of Arizona State means the Sun Devils may be more of a force to be reckoned with when it comes to recruiting battles, especially after they flipped prized Oregon verbal commit Johnny Wilson on Signing Day. 

Payton Pritchard receives Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award

Payton Pritchard receives Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award

Meet the nation’s top point guard.

That’s right. After being named unanimous All-American, Payton Pritchard has taken home the Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the best point guard in the country.

Pritchard topped Duke’s Tre Jones, Kansas’ Devon Dotson, Marquette’s Markus Howard and San Diego State’s Malachi Flynn for the prestigious nod. 

The kid out of West Linn is coming off a senior season at Oregon where he averaged 20.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds while leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 Championship and 24-7 overall record. 

This season, he became the first player in Pac-12 history to record 1,900 points, 500 rebounds and 600 assists. Pritchard also capped off his career as the school record holder in assists (659), wins (105), games played (144) and games started (140). 

He joined Gary Payton, Damon Stoudamire and Jason Terry, as the only players in conference history to lead the league in both scoring and assists. He also joins this illustrious cast as consensus first-team All-Americans. 

Pritchard’s shelves are packed full of hardware, too. The Oregon star took home National Player of the Week honors three times this season and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on two occasions. 

Earlier this month, the Pac-12 Player of the Year landed a spot on the John Wooden All-American team. He also became the first Oregon men’s basketball player to earn first-team AP All-America honors this season.  

Sabrina Ionescu wins prestigious Wooden Trophy for Nation’s Most Outstanding Player

Sabrina Ionescu wins prestigious Wooden Trophy for Nation’s Most Outstanding Player

Sabrina Ionescu is simply the best. 

Hours after being named the Nancy Lieberman Award winner for the nation’s top point guard, Ionescu has been awarded the prestigious Wooden Trophy, recognizing the nation’s Most Outstanding Player, in back-to-back seasons.

It is the Cadillac of postseason awards; The Heisman Trophy of collegiate football; The MVP of the NBA. 

This is a huge honor and one fit for a queen.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All American Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. 

Ionescu beat out Lauren Cox (Baylor), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky) and her teammate and best friend Ruthy Hebard. 

Here is a list of the postseason awards following her senior season:

- Wooden Trophy Winner - Most Outstanding Player (2x)

- Nancy Lieberman Winner - National Point Guard of the Year  (3x)

- Wade Trophy Winner - National Player of the Year (2x)

- Naismith Trophy Winner - National Player of the Year

- Associated Press National Player of the Year (unanimous)

- USBWA National Player of the Year

- ESPN.com National Player of the Year

- Senior CLASS Award Winner

- Associated Press First-Team All-America

- WBCA First-Team All-America

- Wooden Award All-America

- USBWA First-Team All-America

- AAU James E. Sullivan Award Finalist - Nation's Top Amateur Athlete

- Pac-12 Player of the Year (unanimous)

- All-Pac-12

- Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player

She is the NCAA leader in career triple-doubles (26), averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists and is the first player (male or female) in NCAA history to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. 

Forget video game numbers, Ionescu would have broken the console with those stats.

It was a glorious four-year run in Eugene. One that will be remembered forever, whether you’re ordering the famous “triple-double” at the Wild Duck Cafe in Eugene, or perhaps one day seeing her #20 jersey hanging in the rafters of Matthew Knight Arena. 

Ionescu is and has been since last season the overall No. 1 draft pick in the upcoming 2020 WNBA Draft.