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The Rise Of Sabrina Ionescu


The WNBA has been around for a little more than 25 years, and has always been lacking in views compared to their male counterpart, the NBA. There have been many famous faces of the WNBA over the years, such as Lisa Leslie, Becky Hammon, Cynthia Cooper, and more recently Candace Parker and Sue Bird. One player has been a stand-out all season, and that is New York Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu. 

Early Life and High School Career

Before the WNBA, Ionescu played a lot of basketball when she was young, especially with her siblings. When she got to middle school, they did not have enough players to field a team. In an interview with The Washington Post, she stated that “My middle said I should be playing with dolls.” She answered back by recruiting enough girls to have a basketball team.

When Ionescu got to high school, she was a four-year varsity starter at Miramonte High School in Orinda, California. In her senior year, she led Miramonte to a CIF open division title game, while averaging 25.3 points, 8.8 assists, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.5 steals that season. She was a McDonald’s All-America selection, and received the MVP of that game after scoring 25 points with 7 three-pointers.

Collegiate Career

Coming out of high school, Ionescu was the 4th ranked girls basketball prospect in the nation in her Class of 2016. On November 13, 2016, she made her collegiate debut playing for the University of Oregon. She prospered her freshman year, winning the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Pac-12. 

By the time she was a junior, she had already made an impact at Oregon. According to coach Kelly Graves, he noted that the attendance at Oregon’s women’s basketball games increased dramatically during her time at Oregon, reaching 7,100 fans on average and soon climbing up to 10,000 fans.

Even though Ionescu was eligible for the 2019 WNBA Draft after her junior season, she stayed at Oregon for her senior season claiming she had “unfinished business”. She put up monumental numbers for Oregon, making a huge mark on the university as a whole.

Professional Career

Ionescu was selected by the New York Liberty with the first overall pick at the 2020 WNBA Draft on April 17, 2020. She stood out in her second game against the Dallas Wings, recording 33 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds. 

During her first season, Ionescu injured her ankle, unfortunately causing her to miss the remainder of the season. This setback did not stop her though, as in her second season, she recorded her first professional triple-double, becoming the youngest player in WNBA history to record one. 

Notably, during the WNBA All-Star Weekend, she scored 37 points in the Three-Point Competition, setting a new record for both WNBA and NBA, passing NBA superstar Stephen Curry who had 31 points. 

Recently, Ionescu faced NBA Stephen Curry in a three-point competition during the NBA All-Star Weekend. Curry won, but Ionescu put on an excellent performance, only getting beaten by two. 

(Image 3 Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu at their three-point shootout.) source: Sabrina Ionescu via Twitter (@sabrina_i20)

Currently, at 26 years old, Sabrina Ionescu has played four years in the WNBA, and in the most recent 2023 season, put up 17 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1 steal. She also led the league in three-pointers made per game. 

While the NBA still clears the WNBA regarding views, Sabrina Ionescu is bringing excitement and attention to the New York Liberty, and New York womens basketball in general. She is a rising athlete, and will hopefully be the next face of the WNBA.

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