Sabrina Ionescu

ESPN to air WNBA Draft on main network after social media backlash

ESPN to air WNBA Draft on main network after social media backlash

Thursday morning, ESPN announced that the  2020 WNBA Draft will go on as scheduled but a previously planned in-person draft will now take part remotely without players, fans or media in attendance. 

{RELATED: Here's how Sabrina Ionescu will be selected in the upcoming WNBA Draft]

However, the network also announced that the Draft will air on ESPN2... despite sports being canceled or suspended due to the coronavirus. 

When prior drafts aired on ESPN's secondary network, it made sense to do so due to ESPN airing the NBA games on their main network, but that season has been suspended until further notice.

Fans on social media felt that ESPN has no excuse to not air the draft on their flagship station with no competing events happening, including the presumed first overall selection, Sabrina Ionescu.

https://twitter.com/sabrina_i20/status/1243297732929794049

It wasn't the first time college basketball's all-time leader in triple-doubles has criticized the network for their treatment of women's sports coverage.

However, after the response from social media, ESPN has admitted their mistake and has chosen to now air it on ESPN, according to Dan Bernstein of the Sporting News.

After the change in tune, people gave credit where credit was due.

Oregon Ducks teammates Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard are also expected to be taken in the first round along with Ionescu. 

Here's how Sabrina Ionescu will be selected in the upcoming WNBA Draft

Here's how Sabrina Ionescu will be selected in the upcoming WNBA Draft

The WNBA Draft is going virtual.

The league announced Thursday morning the 2020 WNBA Draft will continue on as scheduled, but the previously scheduled in-person draft will now take part remotely without players, fans or media in attendance. 

https://twitter.com/WNBA/status/1243191410058289152?s=20

Does this mean we’ll get to see a hologram Sabrina Ionescu step on stage when the New York Liberty selects her as the No. 1 overall pick? It’s not likely, but if hologram Tupac can perform at Coachella, the sky is the limit.

According to a statement from WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, the league will work with ESPN to “create a memorable but virtual event that appropriately honors these accomplished athletes.” 

This means players will not be allowed the tradition opportunity to hear their name called, walk across the stage and hold their new team’s jersey for the first time. The logistics of the draft night event are still being worked out, but it’s more than likely a player like Ionescu would videoconference in when her name is called.

In addition to the triple-double queen, Ionescu’s teammates Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard are also expected to be selected in the first round. Minyon Moore could hear her name called in a later round. 

The WNBA says it also plans to honor Alyssa Altobelli, Payton Chester, Gianna Bryant and Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed on Jan. 26 in a helicopter accident.

Ionescu spoke at Kobe and Gianna’s public memorial one month ago and shared what an impact her mentor and mentee had on her career. Just hours later, she became the first college player, male or female, to register 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 boards in her college career.

The virtual WNBA Draft will take place on April 17 at 5:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2. 

Sabrina Ionescu named a finalist for the prestigious Wade Trophy

Sabrina Ionescu named a finalist for the prestigious Wade Trophy

Seems like not a day passes without Sabrina Ionescu either winning a postseason award or being named a finalist for another prestigious award, and with good reason!

On Thursday, Ionescu was named a finalist along with Dana Evans (Louisville), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina) and Aari McDonald (Arizona) for the Wade Trophy.

The Wade Trophy — now in its 43nd year — is the oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award in college women’s basketball. It is named in honor of the late, legendary Delta State University head coach Lily Margaret Wade, who won three consecutive national championships with the Lady Statesmen. First awarded in 1978 by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), now known as SHAPE America, the The Wade Trophy has been presented to the WBCA NCAA Division I National Player of the Year since 2001.

Should Ionescu win, she would join elite company of other two-time winners Nancy Lieberman (1979, 1980), Seimone Augustus (2005, 2006), Brittney Griner (2012, 2013), and Breanna Stewart (2015, 2016).

Maya Moore (2009, 2010, 2011) is the award’s only three-time recipient.

While the senior continues to rack up postseason awards, there are still a few more left on the table: Ionescu is also a finalist for the Naismith Trophy and is a frontrunner for the Wooden Award, which she took home last year along with the Wade Trophy. 

She is also a finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, the Senior CLASS Award and the Nancy Lieberman Award for the nation’s top point guard.

Sabrina Ionescu named USBWA National Player of the Year

Sabrina Ionescu named USBWA National Player of the Year

Another day another national player of the year accolade for the G.O.A.T. 

Two days after being named a First-Team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association, they have chosen Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu as their National Player of the Year, officially titled the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award.

The senior is the first Duck to ever win the award.

Sabrina Ionescu is one of the most well-rounded players on both ends of the floor. Her leadership on and off the court stands out, and her ability to make everyone around her better sets her apart. She has grown and developed her game every year, and I am disappointed that she was not able to finish out her senior year and give her Oregon Ducks a chance to win a national title. I am very proud to have Sabrina receive the 2020 Ann Meyers Drysdale USBWA Player of the Year Award. -- Ann Meyers Drysdale, in the USBWA release.

Other finalists for the award were Lauren Cox (Baylor), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky) and Megan Walker (UCONN) and Ionescu's teammate Ruthy Hebard.

The G.O.A.T. has been collecting awards nonstop since the abrupt ending of the NCAA basketball season due to the coronavirus including being named the unanimous Associated Press women's national Player of the YearFirst Team All-AmericaPac-12 Player of the Year, and more. 

Ionescu ended her college career the all-time leader in triple-doubles (26) and the only player ever to record 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds, and 1,000 career assists. She led the nation with a career-high 9.1 assists per game while averaging 17.5 points and a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game.

Next up for Ionescu? The WNBA Draft where she's the heavy favorite to be on her way to the Big Apple after the New York Liberty selects her with the first-overall pick in the WNBA draft lottery.

As of now, the draft is still scheduled for April 17. But with the NBA shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s uncertain whether the draft will still take place or at what capacity.

Oregon's Big 3 of Ionescu, Hebard and Sabally named USBWA All-Americans

Oregon's Big 3 of Ionescu, Hebard and Sabally named USBWA All-Americans

Four days after being named Associated Press All-Americans, Oregon's Big 3 of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally were named U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-Americans Monday morning.

The seniors were named to the First-Team while Sabally was on the Second-Team.

Ionescu was the lone repeat First-Team selection and made her third All-American team in her career. Hebard and Ionescu are both among the five finalists for the USBWA National Player of the Year with Sabrina Ionescu the overwhelming favorite to win after being chosen the Associated Press' National Player of the Year unanimously

Sabrina ended her college career the all-time leader in triple-doubles and the only player ever to record 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds, and 1,000 career assists. She led the nation with a career-high 9.1 assists per game while averaging 17.5 points and a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, her partner-in-crime Ruthy Hebard ended her college career the all-time leader in field goal percentage in Pac-12 history (65.1%) and her 68.5% from her senior season led the nation. She averaged 17.3 points per game and a career-high 9.6 rebounds per game, top of the Pac-12 conference.

Other First-Team selections were Lauren Cox (Baylor), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky) and Megan Walker (UCONN).

Sabally averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Ducks in her junior season and has decided to forgo her senior season to enter the WNBA Draft.

Ionescu is expected to be selected first overall by the New York Liberty while Sabally expects to go third to the Indiana Fever. Hebard also should be selected in the first round. 

Sabrina Ionescu named finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award

Sabrina Ionescu named finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award

Another day, another honor for the G.O.A.T.

Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu has been named a finalist for the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) announced Monday.

The award recognizes the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete regardless of sport. Previous winners include Peyton Manning (1997), Michelle Kwan (2001), Michael Phelps (2003), J.J. Reddick (2005), Tim Tebow (2007) and Ezekiel Elliott (2014).

Voting for the award is open to the public at www.aausullivan.org. Finalist voting opened on Monday and will close on March 30, at 11:59 p.m.

If Ionescu wins she'd be the first winner in Oregon history and she's just the school's second-ever finalist joining former volleyball standout Liz Brenner (2012).

Sabrina has been collecting awards nonstop since the abrupt ending of the NCAA basketball season due to the coronavirus including being named the unanimous Associated Press women's national player of the year, First Team All-America, Pac-12 Player of the Year, and more. 

She's also the only player in college basketball history to record 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds, and 1,000 career assists to go along with being the all-time record holder for college triple-doubles by a wide margin. 

Next up for Ionescu? The WNBA Draft where she's the heavy favorite to be on her way to the Big Apple after the New York Liberty selects her with the first-overall pick in the WNBA draft lottery.

As of now, the draft is still scheduled for April 17. But with the NBA shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s uncertain whether the draft will still take place.  

Sabrina Ionescu unanimously named AP Women's Player of the Year

Sabrina Ionescu unanimously named AP Women's Player of the Year

She led Oregon women’s basketball to three-straight Pac-12 titles. Last month, she became the first player, male or female, to post 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. She is also the Pac-12’s all-time assist leader (1,091) and the NCAA’s all-time triple double leader (26). 

That’s right, we’re talking about Sabrina Ionescu. 

Now, the Oregon star has further cemented her legacy as one of the best women’s college basketball players. Ionescu will join Breanna Stewart as the second women’s basketball player to be selected unanimously as AP Player of the Year. 

AP shared a video of Ionescu, along with Oregon coach Kelly Graves, finding out the news for the first time. 

This is Ionescu’s first time winning the award and she is the only Duck to ever take home the honor. 

The triple-double queen had so many amazing moments in her career with the Ducks. Leading Oregon to its first-ever Final Four, beating Team USA in Eugene, sweeping Oregon State in the Civil War. Let’s take a look back at some of her best moments as a Duck.  

Next up for Ionescu, the WNBA Draft. Recent mock drafts suggest Ionescu is on her way to the Big Apple after the New York Liberty selects her with the first-overall pick in the WNBA draft lottery.

As of now, the draft is still scheduled for April 17. But with the NBA shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s uncertain whether the draft will still take place.  

Sabrina Ionescu's legacy at Oregon will be talked about for ages

Sabrina Ionescu's legacy at Oregon will be talked about for ages

A generational talent.

A program-changer.

An icon to so many.

This is Sabrina Ionescu.

The Walnut Creek, California native stepped into the Oregon women's basketball program four years ago as a part of the 2016 class. Four years later, she would redefine women's basketball, achieve milestones, set unreachable records and leave a legacy behind to be talked about for ages.

It's tough to think that Ionescu's time in an Oregon uniform is officially in the books with the NCAA canceling the remainder of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was still 'Unifinished Business' to attend to. But one can't help but smile at all she accomplished in green and yellow.

Here at NBC Sports Northwest, we put together a montage of Ionescu's milestones, broken records and achievements in the video above throughout her incredible four-year run at Oregon.

Enjoy!

Sabrina Ionescu is “one of the best PGs in the world,” according to NBA skills coach

Sabrina Ionescu is “one of the best PGs in the world,” according to NBA skills coach

The way Oregon basketball legends Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard run the pick and roll, it may seem like the two have been doing so since their first steps in diapers. The way they tore through opposing defenses, make defenders look silly, dropping dimes and making it look effortless...

They made it seem like this was as natural as breathing.

To get this good takes a tremendous amount of hard work, though.

Ionescu had no prior experience of running ball screens, even in her high school career at Miramonte HS in Orina, California where the Matadors posted a 119-9 record.

Ionescu told ESPN in their latest cover story on the Oregon star:

Coming into college, I never ran a ball screen in my life, and that's what our entire offense was. And so I had to learn how to use the ball screens and all the frustration that comes with that. — Sabrina Ionescu

Enter Hebard.

The two that taught a free pick and roll clinic game after game throughout their four-year careers at Oregon. It all made sense seeing that Ionescu lead the nation in assists per game (9.1) while Hebard lead the nation in field goal percentage (68.7). The Yin and Yang.

One of the things Ionescu has stated she will miss about Hebard is the pick and roll. Being able to read what the other will do without talking is something that was established early on between the two with lots of time and practice.

But, as their NCAA careers are now in the books, the two are headed for the WNBA. Will we one day see Ionescu and Hebard in the same jersey at the professional level? Duck fans can only dream of that, but that may not be the case for a while. 

Both are currently preparing for that next step amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, NBA and WNBA skills coach Alex Bazzell, who has worked with Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Gigi Bryant, Candace Parker and many more, posted a workout video with Ionescu, running off ball screens and how to attack the defender.

For those of you wondering how Ionescu’s game will translate to the professional stage, this video brings to light how ready she is:

[RELATED]: Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu still expected to be top pick in WNBA Draft

Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu still expected to be top pick in WNBA Draft

Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu still expected to be top pick in WNBA Draft

The NBA season is currently suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 2020 WNBA Draft, which is scheduled April 17, is still expected to take place. 

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement the league would “continue our scenario plan around our upcoming events and season.” Englebert added that further details would come later this month. 

In a mock draft released by ESPN’s Michelle Voepel, Ionescu is still the anticipated first-overall pick by the New York Liberty. 

Here’s what Voepel had to say about the Oregon guard: 

Ionescu said in an Instagram post Monday that this has been the toughest year of her life. She won't get a last chance to try to win an NCAA tournament title, and her first season in the WNBA might be delayed. But safe to say when she does get back on the court, which is expected to be with the Liberty, she's a player everyone is eager to see transition to the pro game. She averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists this season.

As Voepel mentioned, these past few weeks have been challenging for the triple-double queen, who didn’t have the opportunity to take care of her “unfinished business” and lead her Ducks to a college women’s basketball championship. The tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving Ionescu with a final chapter of “what ifs.”

What if Ionescu, who was anticipated to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, never returned to Oregon? What if she never became the first NCAA Division I player, male or female, to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists? What if never passed Gary Payton as the Pac-12’s all-time leader in assists? 

Ionescu chose Oregon, and in the end, she thrived to become one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. No matter what challenges arise in the next few days or months as it pertains to her future in the WNBA, Ionescu will overcome. 

While the NBA season is currently shut down and not expected to return until June, the WNBA season is still scheduled to begin on May 15.