An hour before her Oregon Ducks would have been announced as one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Sabrina Ionescu gave her first remarks on the abrupt end to their “unfinished business.”
“This year has been the toughest year of my life, and I wasn’t expecting to have to end my senior year like this,” Ionescu wrote on Instagram. “Very saddened but whole heartedly understand.”
The reigning John Wooden award winner returned to Oregon for her senior season after the Ducks reached the Final Four for the first time in program history. She made the announcement in The Players’ Tribune, writing she had “unfinished business,” and declined to enter the WNBA draft. She was the likely No. 1 pick and is again this year. The WNBA draft is scheduled for April 17.
“To my teammates, coaches, fans, and the University of Oregon, thank you for providing me with the best 4 years of my life,” she wrote. “Although our unfinished business will remain just that, I have been blessed to be a part of the journey. Thank you for all the memories, that I will forever hold close to my heart.
“DUCK NATION, THANK YOU!! 20, out.”
The Ducks would have been the top seed in the Portland regional and were one of the favorites to win the national title, alongside likely overall No. 1 South Carolina and reigning champion Baylor. The NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments on Thursday. Selection Monday was set for 7 p.m. ET.
The triple-double queen will leave with an NCAA record 26 of them — more than double of BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth’s 12 — and notched her final one on Feb. 24 after speaking at Kobe Bryant’s celebration of life. She was close with the NBA superstar and his daughter, Gianna, and the date was all of their jersey numbers. That same night she became the first NCAA Division I player in the 2K-1K-1K club.
She finished her four-year career with 2,562 points, 1,040 rebounds and 1,091 assists. She has countless accolades, including three Pac-12 Player of the Year honors.
Oregon (31-2) won the last three regular season Pac-12 titles and two of the past three Pac-12 tournament championships. The Ducks’ final game with Ionescu, senior Ruthy Hebard and departing junior Satou Sabally was a dominating victory over Stanford in the championship game on March 8. It was the first part of the team’s “unfinished business” after Stanford took the title back last year.
The New York Liberty will likely take Ionescu with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Hebard and Sabally will also likely be first-round draft picks.
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