The program will honor Ionescu, Hebard, Sabally and Moore after the regular-season finale
Sabrina Ionescu has been the driving force in the Oregon women’s basketball program’s ascension to national championship contender.
And Ruthy Hebard is perfectly content riding in the sidecar during the dynamic duo’s historic journey together over the last four years.
“I’m happy about it,” Hebard said of Ionescu commanding most of the national spotlight since their touted recruiting class stepped on campus. “I remember my freshman year I’d be like, ’Sabrina, answer this question for me. You talk. I’m just going to agree with you.’
“I think it’s been like that ever since freshman year. It’s just kind of nice to have her take most of the stuff. We just hop in here and there.”
Ionescu and Hebard will be the co-headliners during Sunday’s senior day ceremony following No. 3 Oregon’s regular-season finale against Washington at Matthew Knight Arena (noon, Pac-12 Networks).
“When Sabrina and Ruthy get their numbers retired or enter the hall of fame or whatever they’re able to do here at the university, I think they should always do it together,” coach Kelly Graves said. “Those two are forever linked. And they both realize they couldn’t have achieved what they did without the other.”
WNBA-bound junior Satou Sabally and graduate transfer Minyon Moore will also be honored by the program in front of another capacity crowd.
The Ducks (27-2, 16-1) overwhelmed Washington State 88-57 on Friday for their 15th consecutive win and clinched the program’s third consecutive outright Pac-12 championship.
Ionescu had 12 points and 12 assists during the game. She was also in position to assist when Hebard dropped the scissors from atop the ladder while attempting to cut down the net.
“The presence of Ruthy and how bubbly she is and positive she is,” Ionescu said when asked what she will miss most about Hebard when their final NCAA Tournament run at Oregon comes to an end. “She really is a light to anyone that comes across her. No one has a bad thing to say about Ruthy. When you hear her laugh, you know she’s coming down the hall, so I’m just going to miss that.
“And obviously the pick-and-roll.”
Ionescu has achieved two NCAA milestones — compiling a record 26 career triple-doubles and being the only member of the 2,000-point, 1,000-assist, 1,000-rebound club — that will be difficult for anyone in the men’s or women’s game to ever break or match.
The projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft is even more well known after delivering an eloquent speech during Monday’s memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant on the same stage as Michael Jordan and other NBA legends.
“What makes Sabrina is her greatness every day,” Graves said. “You see it every day in practice, you see it on the court, off the court. It’s who she is. She’s going to dive into the scorer’s table like she did against Colorado, when we’re up 40-something (points) in the third quarter, and she goes diving for a loose ball into the computers and everything on the scorer’s table. …
“I don’t know if she’s ever had a bad day.”
Hebard is second on Oregon’s all-time scoring list with 2,298 points behind Ionescu (2,489) and third in career rebounds with 1,265 behind Jillian Alleyne (1,712) and Bev Smith (1,362).
“We call her our hammer because she makes it all go,” Graves said. “She’s the one that nails everything together. Talk about the most unassuming superstar and humble superstar, certainly the most humble and understated superstar that I’ve ever coached.”
Sabally announced last week that she will skip her senior season to turn professional. The 6-foot-4 German import is averaging 18.5 points on 48.1% shooting and 8.1 rebounds during the Ducks’ winning streak.
“I feel like if it’s possible for other people to have such a support system behind their back and be able to participate in senior night, I would even recommend for other people to do it,” Sabally said. “Because I just feel so much more relaxed now. I can just focus on what’s at hand and not focusing on if I should even leave or not.”
Oregon’s “Big Three” are all projected to be top-five picks in the WNBA draft.
Moore, who was USC’s best player and a thorn in the side for Ionescu and Maite Cazorla the past two seasons, has been a perfect fit for the Ducks with her defensive prowess.
“I think she has made us better and has changed us,” Graves said. “She’s not as good as Maite in the offensive half court and those kind of things. But what she’s done is she’s taken one of the greatest offensive teams in the history of college basketball and made us aware and able to play defensive at a high, high level.”
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