As expected, Sabrina Ionescu went first at last night’s WNBA Draft. Besides that, the former Oregon guard also signed a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with Nike.
Liberty Takes Ionescu
New York Liberty got the opportunity to pick first at this year’s WNBA draft, which was a gift from heaven for the organization. Ionescu is considered to be a generational talent, and since LeBron’s coming to the NBA, there weren’t such high expectations from one rookie in terms of its impact on the franchise that selected him, and the league in general.
Ionescu is widely regarded as the best NCAA player ever, and even though she never won the championship with her Ducks, the 22-year old did things never seen before.
She is the NCAA all-time triple-double leader with 26 of them. Apart from numerous records, she is the first NCAA player in both competitions with 2000 points and 1,000 rebounds and assists each. During the last college season, Ionescu posted 17.5 points, 8.6 boards, 9.1 assists, and led her Ducks to a 31-2 record before the suspension of the season. Oregon was second in the AP Poll rankings during the last ballot. By the way, Ionescu won the NCAA national player of the year award.
The team was projected by many to be the biggest favorite for taking the title, but that wasn’t only because of Ionescu. Oregon had three top-ten players in last night’s draft, which shows their quality. Satou Sabally went right behind Ionescu and was picked by Dallas Wings. Meanwhile, their teammate Ruthy Hebard was selected 8th by the Chicago Sky. So pretty much, the Ducks had everything needed to win their first title in history. Last year they were stopped in the semifinals, with the future champions, Baylor defeating them 72-67.
Liberty should become one of the powerhouses of the WNBA with Ionescu as the leader. The team from the Big Apple got two more first-round picks, Megan Walker from UConn and Jazmine Jones from Louisville, plus they had two out of top three picks in the second round. Therefore, it could be said that New York hit the jackpot on multiple levels.
Nike Recognizes the Potential
As usual, Nike is chasing all the biggest talents in the basketball world, and eventually, the company went after Ionescu too. The two parties signed a deal following the draft night, which suggests that everything was already arranged before and that both sides just waited for the player to become a pro.
There is a connection between Nike and Ionescu, and that is the founder of the company, Phil Knight. He, too, was a Duck, and once Ionescu started her stint in Oregon, the two developed a strong relationship.
Of course, even if this wasn’t the case, it is hard to believe that Nike wouldn’t sign a deal with one of the best NCAA players ever, who was based two hours away from its headquarters.
The entire WNBA community is anxious to see the prolific point guard and her knowledge. Expectations are high, and no doubt, the youngster will experience a lot of pressure. At the moment, the start of the WNBA season, which was originally set for May 15, is postponed.