Sabrina Ionescu joins Sue Bird as only three-time winners of Nancy Lieberman Award

Sabrina Ionescu continues to add to her trophy collection ahead of the star’s presumed selection as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft.

Ionescu is likely headed to the New York Liberty this month after her collegiate career came to an abrupt close without a chance at a national title. She became the first NCAA Division I player in the 2K-1K-1K club with 2,562 points, 1,040 rebounds and 1,091 assists and is the NCAA record-holder for triple-doubles by a large margin with 26. She ranks fourth in career assists.

Joins Sue Bird as only players to win 3 consecutive best PG award

Ionescu was named the 2020 Nancy Lieberman Point Guard of the Year, her third in as many seasons. The only other student-athlete to win back-to-back-to-back Lieberman awards is Connecticut’s Sue Bird (2000-02).

Lieberman, a two-time Wade Trophy winner who led Old Dominion to back-to-back AIAW titles in 1979 and 1980, made the announcement via video on Monday.

Ionescu and Bird join three other multi-year award winners over 20 seasons. They are Connecticut’s Diana Taurasi (’03-’04), Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins-Smith (’12-’13) and Connecticut’s Moriah Jefferson (’15-’16).

Oregon placed three on the Naismith Starting Five. Satou Sabally was named best small forward with the Cheryl Miller Award and Ruthy Hebard was given the Katrina McClain Award for best power forward. All three will likely be first-round draft picks next week.

Fellow Pac-12 star Aari McDonald of Arizona was named the best shooting guard with the Ann Meyers Award and center Aliyah Boston, a freshman from South Carolina, won the Lisa Leslie Award.

Ionescu wins first Naismith Trophy

Ionescu won her first Naismith Trophy on Friday. She was edged out by Iowa sensation Megan Gustafson in 2019 and is now the first Oregon player to earn the honor.

“This one is definitely special. It’s an honor,” Ionescu said on the (virtual) CBS Sports HQ announcement ceremony.

Ionescu thanked her coaches and teammates, who were part of a 31-2 season and No. 2 ranking, the highest final ranking in program history. In her senior year, the 5-foot-11 guard averaged 17.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds. Oregon finished the season by winning the Pac-12 championship.

“It was obviously a year of up and downs,” she said. “We beat Team USA, we beat Stanford and Oregon State. I think there’s a lot of great team wins that we accomplished this year that I’m not taking for granted, and I’m really happy we were able to do.”

Staley, Richards fellow Naismith winners

Ionescu was one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy for the second consecutive year. The other three finalists were seniors Lauren Cox (Baylor) and Tyasha Harris (South Carolina) and sophomore Rhyne Howard (Kentucky). They were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, which is comprised of journalists, head coaches, commissioners and former award winners. The fan vote accounts for 5 percent of the overall vote.

Baylor’s DiDi Richards was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year earlier this week. She beat out freshman Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Aari McDonald (Arizona) and Kylee Shook (Louisville).

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley won the Naismith Coach of the Year, becoming the first to win a Naismith as a player and a coach.

Ionescu repeat winner of Wade Trophy

Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu (20) plays against Stanford during an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women's tournament Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu continues to rack up the game's most prestigious awards. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Ionescu won her second consecutive Wade Trophy, given by the Women’s Basketball Coaches of America. It’s the group’s top honor and was the nation’s first award for a player of the year in women’s basketball in 1978.

“Sabrina had another historic season at Oregon and elevated her game and, in so doing, our sport as well,” WBCA executive director Danielle M. Donehew said in a statement. “She is an incredibly talented student-athlete, leader and ambassador for women’s basketball. Her mastery of so many skills coupled with her tremendous determination to succeed has excited the national media and fans alike, and has inspired the next generation of student-athletes.”

She joins Nancy Lieberman, Seimone Augustus, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore as two-time winners. Moore is the only three-time winner.

The WBCA All-Americans are Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M), Lauren Cox (Baylor), Kathleen Doyle (Iowa), Dana Evans (Louisville), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina), Ruthy Hebard (Oregon), Aari McDonald (Arizona), Satou Sabally (Oregon), Megan Walker (UConn) and Ionescu.

Ionescu a finalist for list of awards

She’s one of 10 finalists for the 90th AAU James E. Sullivan Award for the title of top amateur athlete. It will be awarded April 21.

The star could have entered the 2019 WNBA draft, but decided to stay with the Ducks for “unfinished business.” She was close with Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, and spoke at their memorial at Staples Center ahead of her historic night as the first 2K-1K-1K player.

Ionescu 2nd unanimous AP POY

In March, Ionescu was named the Associated Press Player of the Year, becoming only the second player to win it unanimously. The first was four-time NCAA champion Breanna Stewart in 2016, her senior year at Connecticut before heading to the Seattle Storm. Stewart was named league and Finals MVP in 2018 in one of the most decorated 12-month stretches in basketball history.

Ionescu also won the Senior CLASS Award as the most “complete student-athlete.” Finalists show achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition. The award is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.

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