LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 08: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the Oregon Ducks high-fives teammates on the bench after coming out of the game late in the team's 89-56 victory over the Stanford Cardinal during the championship game of the Pac-12 Conference women's basketball tournament at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on March 8, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Ducks defeated the Cardinal 89-56.
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

New York Liberty rookie Sabrina Ionescu will bid Eugene farewell in style by delivering the keynote speech at a virtual commencement ceremony.

Sabrina Ionescu may be a rookie, but she’s set to give what technically amounts to her first professional pregame speech.

The New York Liberty‘s top overall draft pick is set to give the keynote speech at the University of Oregon’s virtual commencement ceremony on June 20. The university revealed the news in an announcement earlier this week. New York chose Ionescu with the top overall pick of last month’s WNBA Draft.

“I owe it to them,” Ionescu said, per UO’s official website. “They have impacted my life so greatly with the amount of support myself and the team have received from them.”

With the festivities moved to a virtual arena due to the ongoing health crisis, Ionescu is hoping her words provide solace in a time of chaos. She previously provided such feelings when giving a eulogy at the funeral of her mentor Kobe Bryant in February.

“I hope my words can bring comfort and inspiration during this time. I’m hoping my words will create change.”

Ionescu joins an illustrious list of Oregon athletic alumni, which includes Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and Olympic swimming gold medalist Carolyn Wood. The Walnut Creek, CA native took the Oregon Ducks’ women’s basketball program to unprecedented heights, namely their first Final Four appearance in 2019. A record-setter at the national level, Ionescu averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 assists, and 7.3 rebounds over her four seasons in Eugene.

“I am thrilled that Sabrina agreed to be our commencement speaker and help us celebrate the Class of 2020,” UO President Michael H. Schill said in the same statement on the website. “Like her fellow graduates, she has had to overcome disappointment and adversity during this pandemic, but she has displayed resilience and focus in ultimately achieving great things. She is an inspiration as a student and an athlete, and I cannot wait to hear her speak.”

Ionescu earned her bachelor’s degree in general social sciences in 2019 before earning a master’s in advertising and brand responsibility this year.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

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