Liberty Select Sabrina Ionescu No. 1 in W.N.B.A. Draft

Written by on April 17, 2020

The Liberty chosen Sabrina Ionescu with the No. 1 total choose within the W.N.B.A. draft on Friday, kicking off a refashioned “virtual” occasion for a league that has, like most sports activities world wide, been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The infusion of Ionescu and her star energy into the W.N.B.A. comes amid a interval of challenges and renewed promise for the 23-year-old league.

An elite point guard at the University of Oregon, Ionescu grew to become the primary No. 1 choose beneath a new collective bargaining agreement that considerably elevated participant salaries and promised further funding in advertising and marketing. And she’s going to be part of the Liberty simply because the New York franchise is resetting its ownership, its roster and even its logo.

“I noticed a number of the media protection in New York right now,” W.N.B.A. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated on Friday, responding to a query about Ionescu’s potential impact on the league’s footprint. “An enormous precedence of mine is to concentrate on advertising and marketing the league and our gamers. Driving family names and interesting them with followers another way is a factor we’re persevering with to work on.”

Ionescu addresses an on-court want of the Liberty, as some extent guard able to making the unusual move, of avoiding turnovers and of taking pictures 3-pointers. She markedly improved her ending on the rim as a senior, closing the final hole in her sport.

“They’ve nice guards there,” Ionescu stated to reporters after being chosen. “Simply their capacity to shoot and unfold the ground.”

She famous that the quantity of pick-and-roll that Liberty Coach Walt Hopkins plans to run will assist make her transition to the professional degree snug, as a result of she typically used that play together with her Oregon teammates Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard, each forwards.

Each Sabally and Hebard have been chosen within the first spherical as properly — Sabally second over all by the Dallas Wings, and Hebard eighth by the Chicago Sky.

The Indiana Fever chosen Lauren Cox of Baylor third over all, giving the group’s new coach, Marianne Stanley, a stretch 4 to pair with the franchise’s cornerstone middle, Teaira McCowan.

Then the Atlanta Dream acquired a desperately wanted playmaking level guard, taking Chennedy Carter with the fourth choose. Rounding out the highest 5 was Princeton ahead Bella Alarie, who was chosen by the Dallas Wings.

The arrival of those gamers, with a rare array of skills, portends a brand new actuality for the W.N.B.A.

However the actuality is on pause: Engelbert introduced this month that each the April 26 reporting date for coaching camps and the Might 15 begin of the common season had been postponed indefinitely.

On Friday, Engelbert greeted the draft picks through videoconference on ESPN, as she and the league’s latest gamers have been homebound throughout an expertise that’s the stuff of childhood desires. Engelbert stated she had repurposed a drying rack as a show case for the brand new jerseys displayed through the draft.

The night started on a somber notice, because the league named Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester as honorary draft picks. The three ladies — all members of Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Academy basketball group — have been killed within the January helicopter crash that additionally claimed the lifetime of the retired Lakers celebrity.

“Whereas it brings us ache to see their desires not come to fruition, I’m grateful and proud to announce them as honorary draft picks,” Engelbert stated on the printed.

Then the draft proceeded as participant after participant, surrounded by household inside their properties, discovered their skilled locations.

It started with Ionescu, who threw her head again after which let it drop into her folded palms as Engelbert introduced her identify.

Requested what was going by way of her thoughts in that second, Ionescu stated: “That I’m blessed. I’ve been working for this for my total profession and simply tremendous excited to have the ability to see that come to fruition.”

At 12, she had declared herself a future skilled participant, and now she has loads of alternatives forward of her, together with one she revealed on Friday’s name with reporters: She has signed an endorsement take care of Nike. Quickly, although nobody is aware of fairly how quickly, Ionescu will get an opportunity as to whether all of the hype round her is justified.

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