Sabrina Ionescu hired as Ducks’ director of athletic culture

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, has taken an offseason job with her alma mater, the Oregon Ducks, as director of athletic culture.

Ducks women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves announced the part-time staff position Friday. He said Ionescu will help with student-athlete development and cultivate Graves’ five pillars: passion, integrity, unity, thankfulness and servanthood.

“Sabrina exemplifies what it means to be an Oregon Duck and she represents everything our program is about,” Graves said of Ionescu, who set an NCAA record with 26 triple-doubles at Oregon. “Even in just a part-time capacity, she will have the ability to make an immediate impact on our student-athletes and our program as a whole. She truly is a basketball icon that will be able to connect and develop our players off the court.”

Ionescu led the Ducks to the women’s Final Four in 2019, and Oregon won the 2020 Pac-12 tournament and was favored to make a return trip to the Final Four before the NCAA tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ionescu is the only player in NCAA history with at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in her college career.

She missed most of her WNBA rookie season in 2020 after suffering a severe ankle injury in her third game. Ionescu averaged 11.7 points and 6.1 assists in 2021, and she was an All-Star and second-team All-WNBA selection this past season, averaging 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists.

“As a kid growing up in the game, my family helped me develop my passion for basketball and all the values it rewards,” Ionescu said. “When I arrived at Oregon, I joined a new family that embraced those same values and helped me grow even more as a player and as a person. Part of my heart remains in Eugene, and I look forward to cultivating the same family atmosphere for future Ducks in the Oregon women’s basketball program.”

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