BC-BKW--Oregon-Ionescu Returns,1st Ld-Writethru
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu is returning for her senior season.
The Ducks star bylined a story on The Players Tribune titled “Unfinished Business” on Saturday night, minutes after the deadline for her to declare for the WNBA draft expired. She was eligible to enter the draft following her junior season because she will turn 22 this year. The WNBA draft is Wednesday.
The AP All-American, who already holds the NCAA career record for triple-doubles with 18, wrote in the piece:
“I came to the University of Oregon as a freshman in 2016-2017. We made the Elite Eight (and lost big). I came back to the University of Oregon as a sophomore in 2017-2018. We made the Elite Eight (and lost close). I came back to the University of Oregon as a junior in 2018-2019. We made the Final Four. And now I couldn’t be happier to announce that I’m coming back to the University of Oregon for the 2019-2020 basketball season. I won’t predict exactly how far we’re going to go... but I’ll just say this. We have unfinished business.”
Oregon lost to Baylor in the national semifinals Friday night. Ionescu had 24 hours following the loss to declare for the draft.
“As disappointing and sad as yesterday was, today is equally joyous,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves told The Associated Press in a phone interview Saturday night. “She’s meant so much to the program. I think to college basketball. She’s transcending the sport. She’s got NBA superstars, not just players, but superstars, commenting and breaking down her game and going to her games. ”
The Ducks return most of their team that won the Pac-12 regular season title and most likely will be a favorite to win the national championship next year.
“I think also what we’re getting is a very determined Sabrina Ionescu,” Graves said. “I think is a great thing for us and dangerous thing for lots of others. She’ll be singular focused.”
Graves said Ionescu called him Saturday afternoon with the good news. She’s still at the Final Four with her family.
Notre Dame guard Jackie Young is faced with the same decision as Ionescu. She will have 24 hours after playing in the national championship game Sunday night. A few players have decided to leave college early to turn pro, including former Irish guard Jewell Loyd.
Young said Saturday that she hadn’t decided yet what she wanted to do.