Sabrina Ionescu says it'll take 'a long time' to get over NCAA tournament cancellation

Sabrina Ionescu, the likely No. 1 overall pick in next week’s WNBA draft, was brutally honest about the cancellation of the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament during the #WeKeepPlaying event Saturday on Yahoo Sports.

“I don’t think I’ll really be able to get over it for a long time,” Ionescu said.

“[It was] heartbreaking, to be completely honest,” Ionescu said. “Especially playing in that last game we were all excited and didn’t think it’d be our last game as a Duck.”

Ionescu, the first 2K-1K-1K player in NCAA Division I history, finished her career in the Pac-12 championship in Las Vegas with a dominating title-winning performance. At the time, there was little indication that sports events would be canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Senior Ruthy Hebard and junior Satou Sabally, who declared for the draft early, also played their final game for Oregon.

“It was devastating just knowing that that’s what we’ve been preparing for as a team this last year,” Ionescu said. “And losing last year in the Final Four, there’s more fuel in the fire this year to get to that national championship.”

Oregon would have been a No. 1 seed in the tournament and hosted the first two rounds. They were favorites to win the title, their first in program history, and Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma even gave the Ducks the edge in a final he believed would be Oregon against Associated Press No. 1 South Carolina.

Ionescu could have declared for the WNBA draft last year — and likely would have still been the No. 1 pick — but announced she had “unfinished business” and would return to Oregon. In her first statement after the NCAA announced the cancellation, she wrote on Instagram “our unfinished business will remain just that.” She swept all of the player of the year awards this month.

The 22-year-old star said she’s hesitant to say she’s bored during the nationwide quarantine. She’s doing school work for her graduate degree and focusing on things she typically might not find much time for, like reading and yoga.

Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu (20) plays against Utah in an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 women's tournament Friday, March 6, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu said it was "devastating" to hear the NCAA tournament had been canceled. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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