To the surprise of few, Sabrina Ionescu is heading to Brooklyn as the first-ever No. 1 pick In New York Liberty history.
The Walnut Creek, CA native leaves NCAA college basketball as its all-time leader in triple-doubles (26). Her college tenure ends with a triple-quadruple, perhaps. Ionescu is the first player in NCAA history to earn 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds.
Ionescu averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists over her four years in Eugene.
The cancellation of 2020’s college basketball tournaments brought an abrupt end to Ionescu’s storied college career. Her trophy case continued to be stocked during the hiatus, as she earned the Player of the Year honors from the Associated Press, the Atlanta Tipoff Club (who bestows the famed Naismith Award), and the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Other 2020 accolades include her third Pac-12 Player of the Year Award (the second player after Candice Wiggins of Stanford to earn that) and Nancy Lieberman Award (awarded to the top point guard in NCAA women’s basketball as well her second John Wooden Award (most outstanding player).
Ionescu arrives in a famed basketball city yearning for success. The Liberty have gone 17-51 over the past two seasons and recently traded their all-time leading scorer, Tina Charles, to the defending champion Washington Mystics. Welcome franchise stability recently emerged. The team was purchased by Hong Kong billionaire and Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai in January 2019. They will play their home games in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on a full-time basis after hosting two games in the borough last season.
Ionescu is the first No. 1 pick in New York Liberty history. She is the first Pac-12 alumna to be taken in the first round since new teammate Brittany Boyd was chosen out of Cal-Berkley in 2015.
New York owns two more first-round picks in the ninth and 12th slots, coming from Dallas and Washington respectively in the blockbuster deal for Charles.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags