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Bay Area Athlete Sabrina Ionescu's Professional Turn

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John Locher
/
AP Photo
Oregon's Minyon Moore (23) and Sabrina Ionescu (20) walk off the court after defeating Arizona in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Pac-12 women's tournament Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Las Vegas.

A local athlete is expected to be the first player selected in the Women’s NBA draft tonight. Sabrina Ionescu was a standout point guard at Miramonte High School in Orinda from 2012-2016. But it was at the University of Oregon where she transcended her sport, drawing national attention to women’s basketball.Now, the reigning college basketball player of the year will almost assuredly be chosen by the New York Liberty as the first pick in the WNBA draft.

Ionescu is a playmaker — equally good at scoring, rebounding, and passing. She reached double digits in those categories in 26 different games during her college career — that’s more than twice as many as any woman or man before her.

This season, the Bay Area product led the Oregon Ducks to beat the US Women’s National Team — a feat that hadn’t been accomplished by a college club in two decades. In February, she spoke at her friend Kobe Bryant’s memorial in LA, then led her team to beat the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto and clinch the Pac-12 title. In that game, she set an all around career milestone. She become the first player in NCAA Division One history with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds.

Now, the 22-year-old will take her talents to the pros. But the WNBA is holding its draft virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. So Ionescu is here in the Bay for the event.

“Of course, I’m disappointed that I’m not able to be in New York and walk across the stage and get that whole experience,” she said at a press conference on Tuesday, “but I know that there’s more important things going on in the world right now. I’m just happy that I’m able to be here with my family, and they’re still making it as special as they can.”

Sabrina Ionescu’s big draft-day moment comes tonight, shortly after 4 o’clock, Pacific time.