TAMPA, Fla. — Sabrina Ionescu will be bringing some extra carry-ons onto Oregon’s flight home from the Final Four.
The Ducks’ star guard was awarded the Wade Trophy, given to the national player of the year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, during a ceremony Thursday night at Amalie Arena.
“Is it important? Yeah,” Ionescu said of the individual honor. “But not too much to me personally, because I know I have great pieces around me that help me succeed and become who I am and help us succeed as a whole.”
Ionescu was also on the WBCA all-American team, picked up the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s top point guard for the second consecutive season and was named to the Naismith Starting Five.
Oregon State guards Mikayla Pivec and Destiny Slocum were honorable mention selections on WBCA all-American team.
Ionescu, the NCAA’s career triple-double leader (18 and counting) has averaged 19.9 points, 8.2 assists and 7.5 rebounds during her junior season while leading the Ducks to the Final Four for the first time.
Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry, a two-time NBA most valuable player, called Ionescu “a legend in her own right” during a postgame press conference Wednesday.
“You know what, yeah, she's a lot like Steph,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “How he's a conductor, is always a threat to make a huge play, make those 3-pointers.”
Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and Iowa’s Megan Gustafson were voted the Associated Press’ national coach and player of the year, respectively.
“We are only as good as those kids on that floor, and I’ve been blessed to coach numerous great players,” Mulkey said. “I would trade any award for every one of them to experience a national championship. Let’s get that straight.”
Gustafson, the nation’s leading scorer, received 15 votes from the 28-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP rankings. Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament.
Ionescu received seven votes with UConn’s Napheesa Collier receiving three and Louisville’s Asia Durr and Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan each receiving two.
If the Ducks beat Baylor in the national semifinal Friday at Amalie Arena (4 p.m., ESPN2), Ionescu could still add the the Naismith Trophy to her haul in person Saturday.
Chavez still out
Taylor Chavez did not participate in Oregon’s practice Thursday. The true freshman guard said she was healthy enough to play during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games, but she has not been in the lineup since being diagnosed with a fracture in her foot after the USC game Feb. 24.
“Game time decision on her,” Graves said. “She was getting better. With something like that, you just never know. Yeah, she'd been practicing a little bit. We decided to let her lay low, give her more strength hopefully for (Friday).”
Oregon enters the Final Four third nationally in scoring (85.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage (50.5%). The Ducks also remain No. 1 in 3-point shooting (41.7%) after knocking down 13 of 26 3-pointers during the regional final win over Mississippi State. … Baylor has the nation’s longest winning streak (27) and is No. 1 in field-goal percentage defense (31.4%). Since the 2010-11 season, the Bears’ .933 winning percentage (310-23) under Mulkey is second only to UConn.
“I think Geno (Auriemma) said it best, ‘You're a Final Four coach.’ He also said that gave me the opportunity to say anything I wanted (laughter),” Graves said of his friend, the outspoken UConn coach. “I'll use some discretion there. I'll leave that to him."