Over the past year or so, Oregon’s Sedona Prince has started to gather a following.
Whether it’s by her own accord or not, people tend to turn their heads when she walks in the door. With 43.2K followers on Twitter, 246K followers on Instagram, and a whopping 2.8M followers on Tik Tok, it’s fair to say that Prince has a good deal of clout. When she does anything, people take notice.
There is arguably no better example of this than what took place at the Oregon football game on the night of September 25th when the Ducks faced Arizona in the first game back for Oregon students. With kickoff minutes away, the stands were packed, and in an instant, they went crazy, cheering as if a celebrity had just walked into the building.
Quite honestly, a celebrity did. The 6-foot-7 Sedona Prince strolled casually down the steps of Autzen, waving at fans and stopping several times to take pictures with her fellow classmates. She was seemingly happy to be the center of attention, and the students were endlessly willing to give it to her.
— Hayden Herrera (@haydenherrera) September 27, 2021
“You know it’s funny, I was down on the field when that happened I swear to God I thought Bruce Springsteen had come in,” said Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves. “You know, or Marcus Mariota — somebody, because there was such a huge uproar in the student’s section, and then as I looked up I saw it was Sedona. I mean, that should tell you everything right there.”
After leading the public shaming of the NCAA less than a year ago for the lack of equipment provided to the women’s basketball tournament as compared to the men’s, and a continued fight for gender equality, Prince has certainly never been far from the conversation. There was even a long-form story about her in the New York Times just months ago, detailing her fight against the patriarchy that is so often accepted in our sporting world, and society today.
With this has come attention, but also an opportunity to grow. Thanks to the NCAA’s new rules on Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), athletes now have a chance to profit while still in school, and Prince is taking advantage of that. She has incorporated herself, built a brand, and is selling merch. A complete package, fit with top-level basketball skills, and a marketable personality that is as cerebral as they come.
“I think she’s certainly the poster child for the NIL,” Graves said. “I think she has managed it really well. The different contracts or whatever you call it, sponsors that she has is off the charts. She herself is incorporated and on she moves, but I’ve been very impressed with her on the court. She has not let it affect her there. I think she’s working hard, she’s working harder than she ever has. But I think she has really managed everything well and there’s a lot of pressure on her, there are a lot of eyeballs on her.”
On top of that, she is also being asked to help lead this Oregon Ducks team in a season where they have high aspirations, looking to make it far past the Sweet 16, where they were bounced in the NCAA Tournament last season.
So how does she balance that all?
“It’s certainly difficult,” Prince said. “I learned how to grow up in the past few months really fast. I know how to do my taxes now which I used to have no idea about or anything. I kind of had to take control of like organization and my own life pretty much. And now that I do everything myself pretty much I have kind of just grown up, taking on a new leadership role. And that also translates into basketball as well, being more vocal, call people out, speaking up. So it just kind of, you know, it’s helped me be a better person in all aspects of my life so it’s pretty interesting.”
On the basketball side of things, Prince and the Ducks enter a season where there are a lot of new faces on the team, but a common goal that was been just out of grasp for the past few years: Cut down the nets at the end of March.
In 2021, the Ducks were eliminated in the Sweet Sixteen, but they reached the Final Four in 2019 and made it to the Elite Eight in both 2017 and 2018. This is a program at the cusp of bringing home the glory, and they have another great shot at it this season.
“We have to go further. The Sweet Sixteen was not enough for us. It’s not acceptable for this program,” Prince said. “And so coming into this year with a different mindset of, you know, we’re going to win the PAC-12 championship this year, or we’re going to do everything in our power to do so, and then going as far as you possibly can.”
They will certainly have the talent to do so. The Ducks have several returning starters on the team, as well as a number of 5-star athletes on the roster and a coach who is highly regarded as one of the best in the nation.
And in the center of it all will be Sedona Prince, standing taller than most with a goofy grin and bubbly personality. Her pockets will undoubtedly be heavier than they were a year ago, but don’t expect that to weigh her down.
She’s ready for the challenge, and knows that with every step she takes, all eyes within sight will be watching.