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Sabrina Ionescu is basketball’s next great point guard

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She’s already a hero for raising up a fledging Oregon women’s basketball program, but she’s also so much more.

Sabrina Ionescu is one of college basketball’s most dynamic all-around stars, and this could be the year for Oregon’s junior point guard to add a championship to her legacy. In both 2017 and 2018, Ionescu’s Ducks fell short in the Elite 8, the furthest the program has ever been. Those two years brought the Ducks’ women’s team their first Sweet 16 appearances, too.

That’s how much Ionescu means to this program. The question now is whether she can top it off with a title.

Ionescu’s lived up to her No. 4 ESPN recruiting rank and then some. The 5’11 sharpshooter has been one of the country’s best players since her first season, when she won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, and hasn’t looked back.

Her name has become synonymous with triple-doubles: she has 18 of them for her three-year career, which is more than anyone in men’s OR women’s college basketball history. (Former BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth’s 12 in four seasons leads the men.) Her most recent tripe-double came as she intentionally missed a three-point shot in a blowout Round of 32 win over Indiana to grab her 10th rebound with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

All-around dominance has become routine for the Oregon star. At 19.7 points, 8.1 assists and 7.4 assists, she’s stuffing the stat sheet every game while nailing 44 percent of her three-pointers. She ranks 10th in the nation in assist rate — which measures an estimate of the amount of assists a player contributes while she’s on the floor — ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio, 31st in points per game, and 52nd in total threes made. She’s the total package.

That’s made her favorite to go No. 1 in the 2019 WNBA Draft on April 10 should she declare. She still has a year of eligibility remaining in college, but can go pro because she’s turning 22 in December. Whether she leaves this year or waits until after next season, she will be a household name for a long time.

Beyond the numbers, Ionescu has become a fan favorite and an important voice in women’s basketball.

1. She’s incredibly competitive. Like, really competitive

Picture any vocal team leader, and they’d look and play like Ionescu. She’s often the shortest player on the floor in a green uniform, but she’s still the guiding force in everything the most efficient offense in women’s college basketball does.

Ionescu’s always been that way, as Bleacher Report’s Mirin Fader uncovered when speaking to her high school teammates.

One game, her club team, Cal Stars, was facing Cy-Fair Shock at the Boo Williams tournament. Kat Tudor, now at Oregon State, was getting open looks but couldn’t hit. Just one of those days. Cal Stars trailed by two at halftime when Ionescu walked up to Tudor.

”Make a f--king shot!” she remembers Ionescu saying.

Tudor blinked. Stunned. “I’m trying!” Tudor said. “Do you think I’m f--king trying to miss?!”

”F--k trying!” Ionescu said. “Make it!”

Tudor came out of halftime and drained seven threes.

”That’s what I needed that day,” Tudor says. “With Sabrina, that’s how she shows she respects you. She had the faith that I could hit those shots.”

Ionescu’s type-A personality sets her apart as much as her play. In middle school, according to The Washington Post’s Ava Wallace, Ionescu’s teachers suggested she play with dolls instead of a basketball.

“Seriously, word-for-word,” Ionescu said. “So I went out and recruited a bunch of girls to sign up for the team, and then I would just play. It’s funny now.

“I wish I could go back and just tell those people they had made a mistake.”

2. She’s speaking up about the lack of women’s sports coverage

And she’s doing it in her typical blunt way.

“It’s awesome to get [a triple-double] in the tournament,” Ionescu said after recording her 18th against Indiana to earn a Sweet 16 bid. “Probably still won’t get recognized because ESPN never recognizes women’s sports who are getting triple-doubles. But I’m happy I was able to do it in front of the home crowd with everyone supporting me.”

Ionescu’s using her platform and her voice to fight for equal coverage opportunity. After the win over Indiana, she posted this hilarious, meme-able picture:

Her caption: “Comment section doesn’t phase me. They’re talking about cooking?! Well I’ve been serving triple doubles lately”

3. But also ... she’s just really fun to watch

Ionescu is one of the most unpredictable players in the country. Her dribbles might be to set up Ruthy Hebard, Oregon’s center, cutting to the post. Or, maybe Hebard is a distraction and Ionescu is preparing to hit forward Satou Sabally spotting up for three. Maybe Ionescu is pacing around the arc just to launch her own shot. It’s hard to ever know.

Here’s a barrage of her best highlights from Oregon’s 2018 tourney run to the Elite 8:

Here’s Ionescu draining 14 consecutive threes before her first tournament game in 2019:

Here’s a ridiculous cross-court baseline pass:

Here’s Ionescu dribbling out the clock and draining a step-back three:

Here’s her buzzer-beater over Cal from 2017:

Sabrina Ionescu is made for March, and she’s made for beyond it. She dominates with her numbers, her voice, and her signature on-court flair.

All aboard the bandwagon while you still can.