Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Coronavirus, AKA COVID-19, has put the sports world on pause. With that, the NCAA was forced to cancel its annual season-ending tournament, March Madness.
And despite the NCAA granting seniors another year of eligibility, players still wanted to stamp a championship to their legacy this year. To do so, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu had the Ducks in prime position before the coronavirus put an abrupt, disappointing end to her season.
Ionescu, from Walnut Creek, California, went to Instagram regarding the end of her senior season:
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This year has been the toughest year of my life, and I wasn’t expecting to have to end my senior year like this. Very saddened but whole heartedly understand. To my teammates, coaches, fans, and the University of Oregon, thank you for providing me with the best 4 years of my life. Although our unfinished business will remain just that, I have been blessed to be a part of this journey. Thank you for all the memories, that I will forever hold close to my heart. DUCK NATION, THANK YOU!! 🐥 20, out🙏🏼
The 22-year-old won ESPN.com’s national player of the year, Pac-12 player of the year, and was named to the women’s basketball All-America team for three straight seasons. Ionescu put Oregon on the map as the Ducks were the No.1 seed going into the tournament. Along the way, Ionescu met some of basketball’s finest, which includes building close relationships with Golden State Warriors’ guard, Stephen Curry, and her mentor, the late Kobe Bryant. Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26th, in the middle of Oregon’s season.
At Kobe’s memorial, Ionescu said, “I wanted to be just like him; to love every part of the competition. To be the first to show up and last to leave. To love the grind. To be the best, even when you don’t feel your best, and to make other people around you the best version of themselves.”
Ionescu credits her brothers with her toughness on the court. “They never let me get an easy rebound,” said Ionescu. One-on-one battles weren’t easy, either. “There’d be blood; someone would cry. There’d be fights. It’d be pretty intense.”
Ionescu finishes her college career as the first player in history, man or woman, to have 2,000 career points, 1,000 career assists, and 1,000 rebounds. Projected as the first overall pick in April’s WNBA draft, Ionescu said she’s been waiting on this her whole life.
Oregon’s season came to an end without Ionescu getting her chance to bring the Ducks a title. But considering what she accomplished in Eugene, there aren’t too many people complaining.