Ionescu selected no. 1 in 2020 WNBA Draft
Unanimous National Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon was selected by the New York Liberty with the first overall pick of WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm®, which was held virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ionescu, a three-time Nancy Lieberman Award winner as the nation’s top point guard, averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and an NCAA-leading 9.1 assists as a senior. She holds the NCAA record for career triple-doubles and is the only NCAA woman or man to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. A friend and mentee of the late Kobe Bryant, Ionescu spoke eloquently at the memorial service for the NBA legend and his daughter Gianna in February. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Dallas Wings selected Oregon forward Satou Sabally. A two-time All-American, Sabally won the Cheryl Miller Award this past season as the No. 1 small forward in the country. She is a member of the German national team. With the third pick, the Indiana Fever selected Lauren Cox of Baylor. The 2019-20 Big 12 Player of the Year was a finalist for the Naismith and John R. Wooden Awards as the National Player of the Year. As a junior in 2018-19, the 6-4 forward helped lead the Bears to the national championship. The Atlanta Dream used the fourth pick to select guard Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M. Carter, one of three Associated Press All-Americans who entered the WNBA Draft as a junior, averaged more than 20 points in all three college seasons. The unanimous 2017-18 National Freshman of the Year owns the top two single-season scoring averages in school history as well as the single-game record of 46 points. With the fifth pick, the Wings selected Princeton forward Bella Alarie, who became only the third Ivy League player to be drafted into the WNBA. Alarie, the daughter of former NBA Draft first-round pick Mark Alarie, was named Ivy League Player of the Year in three consecutive seasons. The next two players both played at South Carolina. At No. 6, the Minnesota Lynx selected forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, the 2020 SEC Tournament MVP. At No. 7, the Wings used their third pick of the first round to select Gamecocks all-time assists leader Tyasha Harris, the 2019-20 Dawn Staley Award winner as the nation’s top guard. Ruthy Hebard became the third Oregon player to be selected in the first round when the Chicago Sky drafted her with the eighth pick. In her senior season, Hebard won her second Katrina McClain Award as the best power forward in the nation and led the NCAA in field goal percentage. The Liberty used the ninth and 12th picks – its second and third selections of the first round – on Connecticut forward Megan Walker and Louisville guard Jazmine Jones. Walker, a junior, was named a First Team All-American and the AAC Player of the Year this past season. Jones capped her college career with All-ACC First Team and ACC All-Defensive Team honors. At No. 10, the Phoenix Mercury chose guard Jocelyn Willoughby of Virginia and traded her draft rights to the Liberty. The Newark, N.J., native averaged an ACC-high 19.2 points in 2019-20 and was recognized with the Kay Yow Award as the ACC Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. At No. 11, the Seattle Storm used its lone first-round pick to select guard Kitija Laksa of Latvia. After playing four seasons at South Florida, the two-time All-American signed with top pro team TTT Riga in Latvia. In her final full season with the Bulls, Laksa was a finalist for the 2017-18 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award recognizing the nation’s top shooting guard. In the second round, the Liberty selected two-time Conference USA Player of the Year Erica Ogwumike of Rice before trading her rights to the Lynx for forward Stephanie Talbot. Ogwumike is the younger sister of former No. 1 overall picks and current Los Angeles Sparks teammates Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. No family has ever had three sisters play in the WNBA. Before the start of the draft, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert named Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester as honorary draft picks. The Mamba Sports Academy teammates, who played on a youth basketball team coached by Kobe Bryant, tragically passed away in a helicopter accident in January. Also tonight, the WNBA introduced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, a new annual honor that will recognize an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.