Oregon Ducks

Sabrina Ionescu among top 10 of Yahoo! Sports athletes under 25

Sabrina Ionescu among top 10 of Yahoo! Sports athletes under 25

It is safe to say that Sabrina Ionescu is one of the most popular young sports figures in the world right now.

The 22-year-old has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time-- and to think, she hasn’t even started her professional career yet.

Ionescu is just months removed from finishing up her historic collegiate career and was drafted by the New York Liberty No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft.

Her accomplishments and clout have made her among the top athletes under 25 years of age.

The article ranked the 25 best athletes under 25, placing Ionescu at No. 6 ahead of famous young football and basketball stars like Christian McCaffrey, Saquan Barkley, and Ja Morant and Trae Young.

Cassandra Negley, a writer for Yahoo Sports, wrote about how impactful Ionescu will continue to be when she begins her career in the WNBA.

While she won’t be piling up triple-doubles like she did in college, and she won’t have the numbers that she did there, either, she will dazzle in a Liberty system built to allow her to shine. No. 1 draft picks typically go on to prolific professional careers and she will be no different.

The top-5 have not yet been revealed, but Ionescu is the highest-rated female in the field so far!

Ionescu has a lot of expectations to live up to, with finishing her collegiate career as the all-time leader in triple-doubles, as well as the first to ever score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and dish out 1,000 assists 

After being drafted by the New York Liberty as the first overall pick last month, she signed an endorsement deal with Nike.

Being in the top 10 of a stacked list of athletes is just another item on the list of that Ionescu continues to check off.

The future is bright for Ionescu, we will just have to wait and see what records she will break in the WNBA.

Be sure to get caught up with your favorite teams by downloading the latest podcast from NBCSNW.

Sabrina Ionescu channels inner Steph Curry with half-court shot + shimmy

Sabrina Ionescu channels inner Steph Curry with half-court shot + shimmy

Well, doesn’t this look awfully familiar.

Sabrina Ionescu is set to make her WNBA debut on Saturday, July 25 against the Seattle Storm to tip-off the 2020 WNBA season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

All 12 teams are currently in the ‘wubble’ (WNBA bubble) and prepping for the regular season.

In one of the more highly anticipated professional debuts, a lot of eyes will be drawn to that first game on July 25 by those wanting to see how Ionescu’s game, after a very successful and historical collegiate career at Oregon, will translate to the WNBA. 

Looks like one part of her dynamic game hasn’t changed at all: her uncanny ability to drain half-court shots.

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Hold up… was that a Steph Curry shimmy after the ball went in?

Looks familiar…

Well, it’s not all that surprising seeing that Ionescu and Curry are really good friends. Curry took his daughters to sit courtside when the Oregon Ducks faced the Cal Golden Bears last season in Pac-12 conference play. Ionescu recorded a triple-double that night. When the Golden State Warriors were in Portland, Oregon for the Western Conference Finals last season, Ionescu made sure to see Curry after the game. 

Oh, and then there was that time when Curry was trying to get Ionescu to sign with Under Armour after college, but she ended up signing with Nike.

These two Bay Area prodigies sure know how to make a splash (and shimmy).

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Sabrina Ionescu vs. Sue Bird is the perfect matchup to tip-off 2020 WNBA season

Sabrina Ionescu vs. Sue Bird is the perfect matchup to tip-off 2020 WNBA season

The Oregon women’s basketball team took the sports world by storm the night of Saturday, November 9, 2019.

It was that night that no college team has done in over 20 years. 

The Ducks handed Team USA a loss.

It may have only been a 93-86 exhibition win, but it was a win regardless that sparked an entire season of making history and breaking records.

The dynamic trio of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally combined for 73 of Oregon’s 93 points total.

Sabrina Ionescu: 30 points, seven assists, four rebounds.

Ruthy Hebard: 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Satou Sabally: 25 points

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When Oregon took down Team USA last season at Matthew Knight Arena, it sort of felt like a ceremonial passing of the torch. 

18-year veteran and three-time WNBA Champion Sue Bird guarding Sabrina Ionescu was a basketball fans’ dream. And now, we get to watch it all over again, this time with both players at the professional level.

The 2020 WNBA season will tip-off with the New York Liberty and No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft Sabrina Ionescu vs. the Seattle Storm on Saturday, July 25 at 9 AM (PT) at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

[RELATED]: 2020 WNBA schedule: Everything you need to know + key dates

I think it’s a perfect way to start the season.

You have one of the most anticipated WNBA debuts in a long time with Ionescu taking the court in seafoam blue. And on the other side, the return of Sue Bird and 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart for the Storm, who is returning to the court following an Achilles tear in 2019.

This game that kicks off the WNBA season could see it’s best ratings yet, especially after the 2020 WNBA Draft had 387,000 viewers tune in, a 123% increase from 2019 and the most-watched since 2004.

We're playing with no pressure, no one expects us to succeed so having that underdog mentality is going to help us. — Sabrina Ionescu told reporters on Monday.

Never underestimate Sabrina Ionescu.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Former Oregon QB Vernon Adams Jr. eyeing possible return to Eugene

Former Oregon QB Vernon Adams Jr. eyeing possible return to Eugene

With everything going on in the world relating to the coronavirus pandemic and how it impacts the sports world, let’s put that on hold for just a moment and relish in what could be interesting news for the Oregon football program.

Head coach Mario Cristobal has been on a tear lately in terms of recruiting. The Ducks have the No. 1 recruiting class in the Pac-12 Conference and the No. 5 nationally for 2021.

But there is one player, who played for the Ducks for just one season, that looks to be eyeing a possible return to Eugene, Oregon.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.

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The 5-foot-11 quarterback transferred to Oregon in 2015 after a successful tenure at Eastern Washington University leading the Eagles to a 28-6 record when Adams was the starter.

When Adams took over the reigns of the Oregon offense in 2015, he immediately fit right in with the up-tempo pace. Adams completed 168-of-259 passes (64.9%) for 2,643 yards, 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2015.

His lone season will go down as one of the bigger ‘what if’ seasons in Oregon football history.

NBC Sports Northwest’s Dylan Mickanen writes:

“The Ducks only lost two games with Adams starting this season, one of those was to soon-to-be College Football Playoff finalist Michigan State in East Lansing because Adams overthrew a wide-open Byron Marshall for a game-winning touchdown with 1:24 left. Except, Adams played that game with a broken pinky. A healthy Adams doesn't overthrow that pass and who knows, maybe he can keep Oregon in the game against Utah the next week. 

“When a healthy Adams returned against Washington, Oregon wouldn't lose again, including an upset of then-No. 8 Stanford (38-36) and dismantling of then-No. 22 USC (48-28), until the Alamo Bowl where Adams got injured again with a 31-0 lead. 

“Adams led the entire nation in yards per attempt with 10.2, which was higher than Mariota's Heisman season, and a passer rating of 179.09. SB Nation College Football Writer Bill Connely wrote that Adams would have been a Heisman finalist if he doesn't get hurt.

Adams spent time in the CFL following his one season in Eugene, Oregon. 

[RELATED]: Ranking the Oregon Ducks starting quarterbacks of the 2010s

Adams doesn't have any collegiate eligibility remaining, however, he could come back as an analyst or something along those lines in Cristobal's staff. He does have a great football brain having mastered Helfrich's playbook in just a month after he transferred.  

The future of the quarterback position at Oregon is already shaping up to be an interesting competition. When spring football concluded after just a handful of practices (cut short due to COVID-19), Cristobal announced it was Tyler Shough’s job to lose. However, Boston College transfer quarterback Anthony Brown, with his experience, sure makes things interesting along with freshmen Jay Butterfield already on campus as well as incoming 2021 quarterback Ty Thompson.

Maybe Adams can help guide the next guard of the quarterbacks in Eugene. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Jevon Holland, Kayvon Thibodeaux named to 2020 Bednarik watch list

Jevon Holland, Kayvon Thibodeaux named to 2020 Bednarik watch list

Should the 2020 collegiate football season not happen altogether, it would be a real shame for many reasons but one of the rather sad ones will be not getting to see the potential dominance this 2020 Oregon defense has in store not just for the Pac-12 conference but in the nation.

[RELATED]: Oregon football projected to have nation’s 2nd-best defense in 2020

On a more positive note, two Oregon Ducks have been named to the 2020 Chuck Bednarik watch list, which is presented annually to the College Defensive Player of the Year. Those two Ducks are Jevon Holland and Kayvon Thibodeaux.

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Here’s why:

JEVON HOLLAND

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety immediately made an impact on the program the moment he stepped onto the football field.

Holland was a consensus four-star recruit and rated the No. 2 safety in the state of California coming out of Bishop O’Dowd High School in Pleasanton, Calif.

In 2018, Holland finished second in the Pac-12 and tied for 10th nationally with a team-high five interceptions. 2019 was more of the same story: One of four FBS players with four or more interceptions in both 2018 and 2019 and tied for the Pac-12 and team lead with four INTs. Holland is the first Duck to lead the team in INTs back-to-back seasons since Jairus Byrd (2006 & 2007).

Holland now enters his junior season as one of the best safeties in the game. He is one of three returning FBS players with four or more INTs each of the last two years. The Oregon secondary is poised for a dominant season ahead, returning starters Thomas Graham Jr., Deommodore Lenoir, Brady Breeze, Nick Pickett along with Holland. 

KAYVON THIBODEAUX

The No. 1 ranked recruit in the 2019 class made headlines when he committed to the University of Oregon on national television.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end from South Central Los Angeles, California is Oregon’s second highest commit in program history. His college debut in 2019 was nothing short of dominant, in part due to his quickness off the line matched with the physical tools. 

As a freshman, Thibodeaux led the nation with seven sacks in the fourth quarter. He set the program freshman record with a team-high 9.0 sacks and also led the way with 14.0 tackles for loss. The year concluded in a plethora of Freshman All-American awards.

Thibodeaux now enters his sophomore season with still lots left in the tank.

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks have a pipeline of Top-10 NFL Draft picks for years to come

The Pac-12 Conference announced on Friday that it has canceled all non-conference play this upcoming season following in the footsteps of the Big Ten Conference who was the first power-5 conference to cancel all non-conference play due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One can only hope that the season does play out (safely, of course) so the nation can have a look at what this Oregon defense is poised to accomplish in 2020...

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Four-star DE Keanu Williams commits to the Oregon Ducks over USC

Four-star DE Keanu Williams commits to the Oregon Ducks over USC

Oregon continues to dominate West Coast recruiting. 

Four-star defensive end Keanu Williams has committed to the Oregon Ducks via his Instagram Live Saturday evening becoming the 17th addition to the 2021 Oregon recruiting class.

After committing, Williams said he wants to bring a National Championship to Oregon.

[RELATED]: Meet the 2021 Oregon Ducks recruiting class so far

247Sports ranks Keanu as the nation's No. 21 strongside defensive end and No. 27 overall player in California while composite ranking has him at No. 20 SDE, No. 30 player in California and No. 313 overall player in the country.

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With his commitment, Oregon remains the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation thus far and narrows the small gap between them and Tennesse, North Carolina, and Clemson who are barely ahead of them.  By Rivals rankings, the Ducks jumped to No. 3.

The 6'5", 290-pound prospect from Clovis, CA received an official offer from the Ducks back in January of 2019 and has been tweeting more and more about Oregon as of late.

Given his twitter activity and general sense around the program, Williams was considered an Oregon lean for a while now with 100% of 247Sports crystal balls predicting the Ducks as his destination. 

Oregon beat out fellow finalists Stanford, USC, and UCLA for Williams' commitment.

247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman compares Williams to Lawrence Guy of the New England Patriots and sees the newest Ducks commit as a Day 3 NFL Draft pick.

Has a quick first step and plays with leverage, using his length to get to the ball carrier and quarterback. Can get caught overpursuing but shows ability to get to the play quickly. Good at dipping and ripping, showing a variety of moves but also using his strength and physicality overpower blockers. Plays with consistency and shows a good motor and routinely makes impact plays. Projects as a Power 5 starter and third day NFL pick.

Willaims joins Terrell Tilmon as the only two defensive ends in the 2021 recruiting class so far, however, Brandon Buckner also projects to line up on the edge. They will join a program that has defensive ends Kayvon Thibodeaux, John Harvey, and Bradyn Swinson. Thibodeaux likely only has two years left with the program as he's projected to be a top-five NFL Draft selection in 2022. 

If Tilmon and Williams redshirt, they should be poised to start as freshmen with Thibodeaux leaving for the NFL. 

Also, Williams states he's a defensive tackle in his Twitter bio so if Andy Avalos lines him up in the middle, he will look to replace graduating seniors Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu in the middle.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Oregon Ducks linebacker Ge'mon Eaford has transferred

Oregon Ducks linebacker Ge'mon Eaford has transferred

Mario Cristobal coaches a program that embraces competition-- A program that always looks to add talent and where no spot is safe. 

By consequence, the program will lose players who do not see an opportunity to get playing time.

That appears to have happened with sophomore linebacker Ge'mon Eaford who has transferred to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas according to James Crepea of The Oregonian. 

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Eaford was a four-star linebacker in Oregon's 2019 recruiting class that finished first in the Pac-12 and seventh in the country. Per 247Sports, composite score ranked him as the country's No. 10 outside linebacker and No. 193 overall prospect. He was recruited primarily by then-Oregon outside linebackers coach Cort Dennison, now at Louisville, and then-cornerbacks coach Donté Williams, now at USC.

Saturday, Eaford tweeted that his "recruitment is open to all schools."

Now since his commitment, the Ducks secured a pair of five-star linebackers in Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell in 2020, and have the nation's No. 2 ILB Keith Brown as a hard verbal commit for 2021. Add in Mase Funa, another 2019 linebacker recruit who saw significant playing time as a freshman, and there may not have been a spot for Eaford.

As a true freshman, the 6'1", 228-pound Eaford played in ten games but primarily on kickoff coverage with just 28 total snaps on defense. He registered one tackle in an Oregon uniform.

Eaford's departure allows Oregon to be at 85 scholarship players for the upcoming season after George Moore petitioned for a sixth year of eligibility. While that has not been approved yet, Moore has returned to campus for voluntary workouts. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Official: Pac-12 to play all-conference schedule for all fall sports

Official: Pac-12 to play all-conference schedule for all fall sports

Thursday, the Big Ten announced plans to have all fall sports play only conference opponents, eliminating all non-conference match-ups.

Among the events canceled was Oregon's highly anticipated hosting of Ohio State and Heisman candidate Justin Fields. 

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes officially postponed

Now, the Pac-12 is expected to make the same decision and officially announce an all-conference schedule across all fall athletics in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, per Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic.

The Pac-12 plans to become the second football conference to make the decision following in the footsteps of the Big Ten with an announcement expected for later Friday.

UPDATE: The Pac-12 has officially unveiled the conference's plan for the upcoming fall season.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

"Competitive sports are an integral part of the educational experience for our student-athletes, and we will do everything that we can to support them in achieving their dreams while at the same time ensuring that their health and safety is at the forefront,” said Michael Schill, Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and President of the University of Oregon.

The conference also said that all student-athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the coming academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their university and will remain in good standing with their team.

The Pac-12 has developed a series of potential fall sport scheduling models including Conference-only schedules and delayed season starts and details on Conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.

The Pac-12's course of action will cancel anticipated matchups such as USC vs. Alabama, Oregon State traveling to Oklahoma State, TCU vs California, Colorado at Texas A&M, and Notre Dame's games against USC and Stanford. 

Additionally, Oregon's season-opener against potential first-round quarterback Trey Lance and the FCS Champion North Dakota State Bison will also not be played in 2020, if at all. 

5:30p.m. UPDATE: According to James Crepea of the Oregonian, Oregon’s AD Rob Mullens says the conference’s plan is to announce details on the updated schedules no later than July 31. And in regards to NDSU, Ohio State, and Hawaii, Mullens said they will be working with all three programs to get those games back on the Ducks' schedule in the future.

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The move is just the next step in the likely scenario of all conferences keeping athletic competition in-conference to minimize any potential spread of the coronavirus.

For the Pac-12, it makes sense to go this route, especially after marquee out-of-conference games, Michigan vs. Washington and Oregon vs. Ohio State, being canceled for 2020 one day prior to this anticipated announcement.

The Pac-12 had already been in talks of only playing conference games when the Big Ten made their decision, USC head coach Clay Helton said as much back in May.

Now two months later, California, home to a third of the Pac-12 conference, has the most lifetime coronavirus cases among all states with more than 289,000 per the CDC. That's 70,000 more than Florida who has always had lax guidelines for handling the pandemic. 

 After the Big Ten's call, Bryan Fischer of College Football Talk reported that the Pac-12 was expected to follow suit, and they will.

However, the other four Power-5 conferences were reportedly upset at the Big Ten's decision because they were under the impression a conclusion would be made between all five of them. Now conferences, such as the SEC, reportedly feel forced into a corner where they need to comply and move to an SEC-only schedule.

After the Big Ten's decision, both Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Washington Athletic Director Jen Cohen announced that the programs are working with their respective Big Ten opponents to reschedule a trip to the Pacific Northwest. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Oregon four-star WR target Xavier Worthy commits to Michigan

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Xavier Worthy // Instagram

Oregon four-star WR target Xavier Worthy commits to Michigan

Just a month ago, the Ducks were considered a near-lock for four-star speedster Xavier Worthy which would add to a historic wide receiver recruiting class in 2021 for Oregon.

However, it was not meant to be.

Worthy verbally committed to the University of Michigan Friday afternoon on his Instagram Live.

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While it's not signed in ink just yet, it appears quite unlikely that Worthy will enroll in Eugene as he tweeted last month that once he commits that's his final decision.

While considered a near-lock to go to Oregon, he was set to announce his commitment on June 27th before deciding to postpone it to an unannounced date. Heading into the announcement 100% of 247Sports crystal ball predictions had him as a Duck. That changed going into Friday's announcement, with Michigan seen as the heavy favorite.

Worthy, a composite four-star recruit from California ranked the nation's No. 11 wide receiver by 247Sports and No. 32 by composite ranking, named his top-six in May in which Oregon was the only Pac-12 team, along with Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, and Alabama. 

In the end, it appears that Worthy did not want to stay on the West Coast. 

With the Ducks losing out on his commitment, should Ducks fans be worried? No. While he would have been a great deep threat that would stretch the defense, the Ducks are still on track for the best wide receiver class in program history with four-star Kyron Ware-Hudson (nation's No. 22 WR), five-star Troy Franklin (nation's No. 3 wide receiver), and four-star Isaiah Brevard (nation's No. 7 WR by ESPN) already committed to Mario Cristobal and the Ducks.

Additionally, Oregon's the favorite for four-star Dont'e Thornton (nation's No. 6 wide receiver) who won't commit until the Adidas All-American Bowl in January. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].

Oregon Football: Pac-12 champs and Rose Bowl victors has a nice ring(s) to it

Oregon Football: Pac-12 champs and Rose Bowl victors has a nice ring(s) to it

The 2019-2020 Oregon Football season was one for the history books.

The Ducks finished with a 12-2 overall record, 8-1 in the Pac-12 conference, Pac-12 champions and Rose Bowl victors.

On Friday, the players and staff received their championship rings:

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Here's how the Ducks earned these rings.

First, a dominant 37-15 win over Pac-12 south champion Utah in the Pac-12 championship. Running back CJ Verdell obliterated the Utes defense that was ranked No. 1 in the nation in run defense (allowing 70.2 yards per game on the ground) with 18 carries for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Verdell was named the MVP of the Pac-12 championship game.

That earned the Ducks a trip to the 2020 Rose Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers. Oregonians Justin Herbert and Brady Breeze scored all four of Oregon's touchdowns in a 28-27 win over the Badgers; three from the legs of Herbert and one special teams touchdown from Breeze.

These rings are well-deserved.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and former Oregon Track & Field star and Olympian Galen Rupp].