Two words: Sabrina Ionescu.
In arguably the most highly anticipated season of Oregon women’s basketball, the Ducks have some “unfinished business” to take care of this upcoming season and sit at No. 1 in the preseason NCAA Power 10.
Led by the reigning Wooden Award and Wade Trophy winner for the most outstanding player in college basketball, Ionescu, the Ducks return with firepower, fresh talent, and a chip on their shoulders. Following a 72-67 loss to Baylor in the Final Four last season, Ionescu decided to forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft (as the projected No. 1 pick) and return to Oregon for her senior season. This sparked a chain reaction of good news for the Ducks in Eugene. Recruits including Jaz Shelley (Australia National Team), Holly Winterburn (Great Britain National Team) and transfers Sedona Prince (the 6-foot-7 Texas transfer who was rated the No. 8 recruit in 2018) and Minyon Moore (senior transfer from USC) all saw what the program was building and wanted to be apart of it.
Here’s what Michelle Smith of the NCAA had to say about Oregon:
Ionescu came back to Eugene because she wanted to win a title. With Ruthy Hebard, Satou Sabally and Erin Boley back as well, Oregon is the undisputed preseason favorite.
The Ducks absorbed a big blow this summer when Sabally’s younger sister, Nyara, sustained another ACL injury that will likely keep her out of the 2019-20 season.
The only other question mark is who replaces Maite Carzola at point guard. Meanwhile, Ionescu has the chance to become the first player in NCAA women's basketball history to reach career totals of 2,000+ points, 1,000+ assists and 1,000+ rebounds.
The injury to redshirt freshman Nyara Sabally is heartbreaking since she sat out last season too (injury). Duck fans are longing to see both Sabally sisters take the floor and that thought just may keep junior Satou Sabally back in Eugene for her senior season season (projected No. 3 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft).
Replacing Maite Cazorla won’t be easy. The four-year starter for the Ducks was selected 23rd overall (second round) by the Atlanta Dream in the 2019 WNBA Draft. Senior transfer from USC Minyon Moore just may step into that role with her leadership ability as well as sophomore Taylor Chavez (who now has one year of collegiate basketball under her belt).
Preseason Top 10 (2-10):
4. Texas A&M
6. Oregon State
8. Mississippi State
9. South Carolina
The Ducks held their first practice of the season on Monday, September 30 and will open up the 2019-20 season against Northeastern University on Monday, November 11 at home in Eugene, OR. The AP Preseason Top 25 will be released later this month.