Satou Sabally

Walt Disney World would 'be happy' to host the WNBA season as well

Walt Disney World would 'be happy' to host the WNBA season as well

Sabrina Ionescu always produces magic on the court so it only makes sense she may make her professional debut next to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

According to Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports, Walt Disney World would "be happy" to host the WNBA in addition to the remainder of the NBA season if the league wants.

"We'd be happy to host the WNBA here as well," a source told Smith. "We see this as an overall partnership with the entire NBA umbrella. We've been great partners for years, as seen with the NBA Experience at Disney Springs. This is an expansion of that."

Smith worked at Disney for 20 years before leaving to cover the NBA full-time.

The report comes hours after NBA spokesman Mike Bass announced that the NBA in congruence with the Player's Association have begun talks to play out the remainder of the season at Walt Disney Corporation's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

"The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing," Bass said. "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."

On April 3, the WNBA season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no longer targeting to begin training camp on May 15.

"As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15," said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a statement. "While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees."

The league also held the 2020 WNBA Draft virtually which saw three Oregon Ducks go in the first round: Sabrina Ionescu (No. 1 to the New York Liberty), Satou Sabally (No. 2 to the Dallas Wings) and Ruthy Hebard (No. 8 to the Chicago Sky).

Additionally, Oregon State's Mikayla Pivec was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the first pick of the third round. 

Now, it appears like all four will make their respective WNBA debuts at Walt Disney World.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

LeBron James shouts out Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally after historic WNBA selection

LeBron James shouts out Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally after historic WNBA selection

LeBron James is a huge advocate for women’s basketball and you better believe he was watching the 2020 WNBA Draft on Friday night. 

James, like the rest of us watching, probably noticed an Oregon Ducks dominance in the first round, more specifically in the first eight picks. Sabrina Ionescu went No. 1 to the New York Liberty; Satou Sabally went No. 2 to the Dallas Wings; and Ruthy Hebard went No. 8 to the Chicago Sky.

Be sure to listen to the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck:

Not only did these three make history in the WNBA last night, but Ionescu and Sabally made big time business decisions as well. 

Ionescu has become the next great athlete to sign with Nike and Sabally partnered with Uninterrupted and KUTULA by Africana for a capsule Mudcloth hoodie that included James’ ‘More than an Athlete’ campaign. 

King James took notice and congratulated the two Ducks on their business deals and next adventure in the WNBA on his personal Instagram story.

This isn't the first time James has noticed the basketball prodigies.

The King of basketball has dubbed Sabrina Ionescu the Queen. 

How Satou Sabally becomes an immediate pillar for the Dallas Wings

How Satou Sabally becomes an immediate pillar for the Dallas Wings

On Thursday ahead of the WNBA Draft, Oregon’s Satou Sabally met with members of the media over Zoom.

In Sabally’s eyes, mock drafts are just mock drafts but she has had time to think of her potentially playing for Dallas, who held the No. 2 overall selection in Friday’s draft, and were projected to take Sabally. 

I’ve definitely thought about it. I’ve looked at the roster and they’re a really young team. I mean I would love to join them and just compete, build a new program basically and just do some new things. — Satou Sabally on potentially getting drafted by the Dallas Wings.

This is now a reality.

The mock drafts were right and Sabally will start her WNBA journey with the Dallas Wings organization.

Sabally didn’t have to wait long to hear her name called on draft night. Her Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu went No. 1 overall to the New York Liberty, and it is just the fourth time in WNBA history that picks one and two were from the same college.

The 6-foot-4 small forward was an absolute nightmare matchup throughout her three-year collegiate career at Oregon. Sabally decided to forgo her senior season at Oregon and turn professional, which wasn’t an easy decision at all, but ultimately it was the right one in her eyes.

Here’s how Sabally fits with the Dallas Wings:

The Wings have a very young roster with not one player having over four years of professional experience. This is huge for Sabally and builds up competition, giving her a chance to play and start right away. 

Dallas has three of the first seven picks in this 2020 WNBA Draft, indicating three future stars to build the team around. Sabally will be able to play anywhere between the 2-4 due to her frame and ball-handing which makes her an excellent choice to be a part of their core.

A potential backcourt of Sabally and Arike Ogunbowale complimented by Team USA’s Katie Lou Samuelson down low is not too shabby of a group to build an organization around. Sabally has that ability to stretch the floor with her dynamic three-point shot while also taking her defender off the dribble.

Congratulations, Satou!

Satou Sabally selected No. 2 to the Dallas Wings in the 2020 WNBA Draft

Satou Sabally selected No. 2 to the Dallas Wings in the 2020 WNBA Draft

With the 2nd pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft, the Dallas Wings select Satou Sabally from the University of Oregon.

TWEET

JUNIOR YEAR STATS:

16.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game.

6-foot-4 small forward, Berlin, Germany

The last year of Satou Sabally in an Oregon uniform was a great one. Sabally was a nightmare matchup for opposing teams throughout her college career at Oregon and will now get the opportunity to do the same in the WNBA.

The former Pac-12 Player of the Year and 2020 Cheryl Award winner as the nation’s top small forward was a perfect fit in Oregon head coach Kelly Graves’ system, creating an enormous amount of space on the court due to defenders having to respect her three-point shot. But her size, strength and quickness allowed her to get to the hoop and really establish a drive-and-kick game this past season as well. 

[RELATED]: Despite second thoughts, Satou Sabally ready for the WNBA

QUICK GLIMPSE AT THE DALLAS WINGS:

The Wings (10-24) finished 10th overall in the league in 2019. 

Dallas is a very young team, but no shortage of talent. Sabally joins fellow Pac-12 conference foe Kristine Anigwe (Cal) and Karlie Samuelson (Stanford), Team USA’s Katie Lou Samuelson, the 2019 Naismith Award winner Megan Gustafson and 2018 National Champion Arike Ogunbowale. No current player on this roster has more than four years experience.

Three players finished averaging in double figures in 2019: Ogunbowale (19.1 ppg); Allisha Gray (10.6 ppg); and Kayla Thornton (10.4 ppg).

More to come on how Sabally will fit into this system.

Despite second thoughts, Satou Sabally's ready for the WNBA

Despite second thoughts, Satou Sabally's ready for the WNBA

In three years, Satou Sabally has gone from a spot-up shooter who just hung around the three-point line, to the potential No. 2 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft.

Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves knew how high Sabally’s ceiling could reach and the potential she has on the court. Her WNBA body is one thing, but the game really slowed down for Sabally from year one to year two. 

She capped off her freshman campaign in Eugene, Oregon with Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, but there was so much more potential and room to grow.

Two years, one Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Award, a Final Four appearance and two Pac-12 Championships later, and Sabally’s hard work and determination have paid off.

It would mean so much to me, just being viewed as such a good player, gives me so much joy and happiness, but it also shows that it pays off to work hard every day and just keep grinding. As I said it means a lot to me, mock drafts are still mock drafts, but I’m just so blessed to be able to be on No. 2. — Satou Sabally

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck:

The decision to forgo her senior year at Oregon and declare for the WNBA Draft was not easy and weighed on Sabally even after she sent in her papers to the WNBA.

There were pros and cons for staying and leaving. If she stayed, she could have one season playing alongside her younger sister Nyara Sabally (who is coming off injury). 

We still don’t know if there will be a WNBA season. It’s kind of risky but on the other hand I also thought that I was ready to leave. This is part of being a professional… I still feel ready to take the challenge and accept it as it is. 

I had the luxury of having an alternative decision of returning back to college and I didn’t take it because ultimately I’m just ready for a new step. — Satou Sabally

The Berlin, Germany native will have video conference support from her family 8,494 km away and nine hours ahead in time. It will be approximately 1 a.m. in Germany when Sabally’s name will be called during the draft.

One of the biggest factors why Sabally did decide to turn pro is her family. She would love to help support her family financially. It was unfortunate that they couldn't fly overseas and attend Satou's "senior" night in Eugene, Oregon following her final game in a Ducks uniform at Matthew Knight Arena, but the cost of doing so is very high. Sabally wants to do what she can to help support her family and the WNBA new CBA sure helps with that. 

Sometimes it’s hard to access ESPN overseas but I hope this time it’s going to be possible so they’re all going to be tuned in. — Satou Sabally

The 2020 WNBA Draft begins at 4 p.m. (PT) on Friday, April 17.

Why Satou Sabally is the most versatile player in the 2020 WNBA Draft

Why Satou Sabally is the most versatile player in the 2020 WNBA Draft

Satou Sabally was a nightmare matchup all through her college career.

The 6-foot-4 junior small forward, who has decided to forgo her senior season and has entered the 2020 WNBA Draft, finished an illustrious career at Oregon this season and averaged 16.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the basketball phenom.

For someone apart of a tight-knit family, the Berlin, German-native committed to head coach Kelly Graves and the Oregon Ducks, an 11 hour and six minute plane ride overseas. 

Sabally struggled adapting to American collegiate basketball her freshman year. Although she was still very productive averaging 10.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game that ended with Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, Graves knew how high her ceiling was and the player should could become.

The game really slowed down for her in year two.

Sabally was more aggressive getting to the hoop, establishing a drive-and-kick game, increasing her scoring abilities, and nearly double her rebounding average.

On Monday, April 13, Rebecca Lobo and Holly Rowe participated in a national phone press conference ahead of the 2020 WNBA Draft.

I think Satou is one of the most intriguing prospects in the WNBA draft this year from a skills standpoint. I think her versatility, what she can bring and what she can continue to grow in her toolbox is probably and maybe the most versatile of anybody in this draft. I love, love, love her game. — Holly Rowe on Satou Sabally

When the Ducks suffered their first Pac-12 conference loss of the season at Arizona State, 72-66 in Tempe, Arizona, Graves sat down to watch film with Sabally. He challenged her to be better. And she responded.

She responded in a huge way throughout the season. She took the message to heart and improved. She got to the free throw line more and didn’t just settle for three’s. She found open teammates and rebounded; got to the offensive glass better. Those are the things we like to see as well. Get challenged by a coach and how does the player respond to that. And she did. — Rebecca Lobo on Satou Sabally

You can watch more in the video above.

Sabally is the projected No. 2 pick in the upcoming 2020 WNBA Draft to the Dallas Wings. 

Be sure to also check out the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Kelly Graves:

Satou Sabally wins Cheryl Miller Award as Nation's Top Small Forward

Satou Sabally wins Cheryl Miller Award as Nation's Top Small Forward

After being named a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award last season, Satou Sabally is finally taking home the hardware. 

Sabally was named Cheryl Miller Award winner on Monday, which recognizes the nation’s top small forward.

She topped UConn’s Megan Walker, Iowa State’s Ashley Joens, Kentucky Rhyne Howard and UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere, who were finalists for the award. 

The junior made the decision to forgo her senior year and declare for the WNBA Draft after averaging 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2019. She is anticipated to be a top-four lottery pick. 

Sabally was named Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season, when she averaged 10.7 points and 3.8 rebounds. In 2018, she helped the Ducks advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history, before falling in the semifinals to the eventual champions, Baylor. 

Sabally, along with teammates Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard, were left with unfinished business this season. The Pac-12 champions hoped to avenge their Final Four loss, but the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the spread of COVID-19. 

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. 

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.