Sabrina Ionescu turned 21 this season.
“I hope she made smart decisions that night,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves recently joked.
Ionescu’s December birthday was significant in the women's basketball world because it means the Ducks’ national player of the year candidate will have a decision to make after the season is over.
The WNBA requires prospects to be at least 22 years old during the year in which the draft takes place. Ionescu, a junior, is projected by ESPN to be the No. 1 overall pick of the Las Vegas Aces in this April’s WNBA draft.
During a dominant homecoming last weekend, the Walnut Creek, Calif., native averaged 27.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists to lead No. 3 Oregon to a sweep of California and then-No. 11 Stanford.
“I have absolutely no idea,” Ionescu said of the likelihood she would forgo her senior season with the Ducks and turn pro. “I can’t put a number on it. I’m focusing on what we’re building here and this year. I think everyone on the coaching staff and my teammates know I’m 100 percent dialed in to this game and this team.
“I don’t really pay any attention to any of that draft board or any of that media stuff. I’m just excited to be in this position.”
Unlike Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who is putting the NFL on hold and returning for his senior season, or men’s basketball player Bol Bol, who will be one-and-done with the Ducks and entering the NBA draft, there are not millions of dollars waiting for Ionescu at the next level.
According to Forbes, starting salaries in the WNBA are $50,000, the median salaries are approximately $71,635 and salaries for star players cap out at $110,000.
Ionescu was asked about possibly being a three-and-done collegiate player after her mother, Liliana, sat on the baseline with local sports agent Bill Duffy before Oregon’s 88-48 dismantling of Stanford on Sunday at Maples Pavilion.
“I’m not going to make a pitch,” Graves said of Ionescu’s decision. “I’m going to support her in whatever she decides she wants to do. That’s something other people are worried about. I don’t think she is right now. We haven’t really had a chance to talk about it in depth. We talk about it superficially from time to time.
“I don’t think she’s worried about it. She’s going to have time after the season, and I think depending on how well we do will help determine what that decision is.”
Graves did note that he coached Courtney Vandersloot for four seasons at Gonzaga. The longtime WNBA point guard for the Chicago Sky was the first Division I player, male or female, to accumulate 2,000 points and 1,000 assists during a career.
Ionescu has 1,692 points, 677 assists and 650 rebounds entering the stretch run of her third season at Oregon.
“Sabrina is on pace to be the second to do that, plus add 1,000 rebounds,” Graves said. “Those are iconic numbers. That’s incredible. That may, in our lifetimes, never be broken.”
On Monday the NCAA Tournament selection committee announced Oregon, which is seeking the program’s first Final Four appearance after back-to-back runs to the Elite Eight, was the No. 1 seed in the Portland Regional in its first reveal of the top 16 seeds.
The Ducks (23-1, 12-0) extended the nation’s longest active winning streak to 16 games after handing Tara VanDerveer her worst loss in 33 seasons at Stanford.
Ionescu nearly added to her career triple-double record after finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
“The game slowed down for me,” Ionescu said. “Our coaches put us in good positions as guards to see the floor well. They don’t do anything we haven’t seen before. With me and Maite (Cazorla) and Taylor (Chavez) coming off these ball screens, the game slowed down, and I was able to either get a shot, get a basket or get a dump off to the post.”
Oregon has sold about 12,000 tickets for Friday’s game against No. 9 Oregon State at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks will also host UCLA and USC during the regular season and first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games before Ionescu decides whether or not leave for the WNBA.
“She’s part of our family forever,” Graves said. “I love and support Sabrina, and I will regardless of the decision she makes.”