Guard | #20 | 5-11 | Dec. 6, 1997
Walnut Creek, CA
Become the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft and impact the game immediately upon arrival at the professional level
• University of Oregon (Kelly Graves, head coach)
• Miramonte High School (Kelly Sopak, head coach)
• Mentorship from NBA stars like Stephen Curry and the late Kobe Bryant
• Associated Press National Player of the Year (2020); joined Breanna Stewart (2016) as the only unanimous winners in the award’s history
• 3x Pac-12 Player of the Year; 2x Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
• Owns NCAA record (women and men) for career triples-doubles (26) and single-season triple-doubles (8), which she did as both a junior and senior
• First player in NCAA history (women and men) to reach 2,000 career points (2,562), 1,000 assists (1,091) and 1,000 rebounds (1,040) in a career
• Led the NCAA in 2019-20 with a career-best 9.1 assists per game, while adding 17.5 points and a career-high 8.6 rebounds per game
• Ranks fourth in NCAA in 2019-20 with a 3.05 assist-to-turnover ratio
• Ranks fourth all-time in NCAA women’s basketball with 1,091 assists
• Oregon’s all-time leader in points (2,562), assists (1,091), three-point field goals (329) and double-figure scoring games (134)
• Led Oregon to three Elite Eight appearances and one Final Four appearance in the NCAA Tournament
• Led Oregon to a 31-2 record in her senior season, ranked No. 2 in the country, before the NCAA Tournament was canceled
Ionescu’s name is synonymous with the words “triple-double” in similar fashion to Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson. It showcases the full array of her skills and how she impacts all facets of the game.
“Coming into college, I never ran a ball screen in my life, and that’s what our entire offense was,” Ionescu said. “And so I had to learn how to use the ball screens and all the frustration that comes with that.”
During her senior season, pick-and-rolls accounted for 40.5% of Ionescu’s offensive possessions, according to play type data tracked by Synergy Sports. Ionescu scored 238 of her 578 points this season (41.2%) on pick-and-rolls and she ranked in the 97th percentile in efficiency at 1.053 points per possession. Ionescu posted a 62.1% effective field goal percentage on pick-and-rolls, which leads the 122 qualified players with at least 150 pick-and-roll possessions this season.
Ionescu’s ability to score from all three levels – 3-point, mid-range and at the basket – make her such a difficult cover in pick-and-roll sets. If the defender goes under the screen, she can simply launch a three; if the defender tries to go over the screen, she can hit the pull-up mid-range jumper before the guard gets over the screen and before the post player comes up to stop the drive; and if the post player is late, Ionescu can drive all the way to the basket and finish at the rim and through contact.
While she’s a threat from all over the court, Ionescu was at her most efficient with high pick-and-rolls, which accounted for 68% of her total pick-and-rolls. She scored 1.312 points per possession on high pick-and-rolls with an effective field goal percentage of 64.2%.
That high effective field goal percentage highlights how great of a shooter Ionescu is in addition to her ability to drive and make plays for her teammates. Ionescu shot 42.2% (329-779) from beyond the arc during her four-year career at Oregon.
While she is used to initiating the Ducks offense, Ionescu has also excelled on spot ups, which account for 14% of her offensive possessions. She ranks in the 95th percentile on spot ups at 1.128 points per possession – whether it is on catch-and-shoots (1.056 PPP) or dribble jumpers (1.533 PPP).
While Ionescu is known for being a multifaceted player that can do it all, if there is one skill she possesses that stands out above the rest, it would be her passing. She has the combination of vision, timing and instincts to get her teammates the ball in exactly the right spot, at the right time, to find success.
She finds teammates on cuts to the basket; she hits the high-low pass to the rolling big on pick-and-roll; she makes skip passes on the perimeter for open corner 3-pointers; and she does it all with precision, getting the ball right in the spot, so a teammate can simply shoot in stride and without hesitation.
Ionescu calls herself a pass-first point guard, a player that is willing to give up a good shot for herself in order to create a great shot for a teammate. But she also knows when it is time to call her own number and take over in certain situations. Sue Bird is a great comparison here as she can spend an entire game facilitating the offense, but can take over and deliver a shot in clutch situations.
Ionescu’s rebounding has risen steadily during her tenure at Oregon from an average of 6.6 rebounds as a freshman to setting a career-high with 8.6 as a senior with 12 double-digit rebound games in her 33 games in 2019-20. She ranked 87th overall in NCAA Division I and 17th among guards.
Standing at 5-foot-11 and without possessing incredible leaping ability, Ionescu isn’t grabbing rebounds strictly due to her physical gifts. Instead, it is a combination of her strength, relentlessness and instincts that have helped her become a strong college rebounder.
Having a point guard being such a good rebounder also helped the Ducks get into the offense quickly and take advantage of teams in transition. Oregon ranked second in NCAA Division I with 1.152 points per possession in transition as those accounted for 16.3% of the Ducks offense.
It took only seven games for Ionescu to showcase all of her skills and record her first collegiate triple-double. She had four triple-doubles as a freshman, added six as a sophomore, before breaking the NCAA records for most career triple-doubles and most triple-doubles in a season as a junior when she added eight to bring her total up to 18.
In her senior season, she added another eight to bring her total to 26, which is 14 more than any other player (woman or man) has ever recorded in college basketball. The Ducks went a perfect 26-0 in games that featured an Ionescu triple-double.
Hobbies / Interests / Activities
• Rewriting record books
• Inspiring young players
• Terrorizing opposing coaches and players
Geno Auriemma (head coach, University of Connecticut): “She has a very similar impact on her team that those players (former UConn great guards Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird) had. She’s able to conjure up whatever she needs in any particular possession to help her team, whether its a defensive play, whether its a rebound, an assist, a big three, some kind of play that has to be made, she knows when it has to be made and she has the ability and has the kind of great player mentality to make that play and inspire her teammates, which is what those great players were always great at – making their teammates better.”
Auriemma: “When she walks out, you go, ‘That kid’s not gonna run by anybody, jump over anybody.’ She’s not the biggest, quickest, fastest, strongest. Kind of like describing Sue [Bird]. Then you start to realize the incredible competitiveness that she has, the skill level that she has, the physical and mental toughness that she has. It’s a great role model for other kids to watch and say, ‘That kid’s doing it, not just by God-given foot speed or strength or agility, she’s doing it because she’s just skilled. She’s worked at it. She’s relentless.’ These are things that kids can acquire; they don’t have to be born with those things. That’s what I admire most about her.”
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury, WNBA all-time scoring leader): “When you can pass, and make people around you better every game no matter how you’re shooting, that’s when you can play on any team in the world. Whether you’re talking about WNBA, overseas, the Olympic team. That’s kind of gotten lost in the age of highlights. The simple pass isn’t going to be a highlight, but that’s the skill that’s going to keep you in the league for a long time.”
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm, WNBA all-time assists leader): “She’s very relentless. Even when you think you have her stopped, she keeps coming at you. Those are things you can’t always teach. People are going to talk about, ‘Is she a good enough shooter? Can she do this? Is she good enough for that?’ Who cares? If you’re competitive, that can overcome a lot.”
Tara VanDerveer (Head Coach, Stanford University): “They had Sabrina, and we didn’t,” – following Ionescu’s 37-point performance to lead No. 6 Oregon over No. 3 Stanford.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors): “It’s pretty amazing to see her set new levels of expectation for what greatness is, not just for women’s basketball but for basketball in general.”
Steve Kerr (Head Coach, Golden State Warriors): “She reminds me a little bit of Diana Taurasi. Just a level of confidence and a swagger is off the charts, which is well-deserved because she’s a baller. She’s a great role model, great player, fun to watch.”