Sabrina Ionescu Is the Second Coming of Russell Westbrook

The Oregon Ducks visionary is already an all-timer...and she’s 20. Brodie? What Brodie? Part of the B/R POWER 50 Level Up list.
photo of Shana ReneeShana ReneeContributor IJuly 23, 2018

A peek at Sabrina Ionescu's Instagram reveals highlights from the life of the 20-year-old Oregon Ducks guard. Drake lyrics score back-to-back photos, making her relatable to 99.9 percent of other 20-somethings doing it for the 'gram. Yet, conspicuously hidden from her modestly curated social-media life is the part that makes her unique from 99.9 percent of all humans. The part that discloses she is the all-time NCAA women's leader in triple-doubles.

Ionescu (pronounced yo-NESS-coo)—put some respect on her name and game—respectfully shuns comparisons to the NBA's 2016-17 MVP, Russell Westbrook, and says she's not a "freakishly great athlete" like the triple-double king.


Proved, though, is that Ionescu, like Westbrook, is a singular type of talent.

As a sophomore in 2017-18, the 5'11" guard, born in California with Romanian roots, broke the record for triple-doubles when she recorded her eighth—in just her 48th college game. (The previous record holders, Penn State's Suzie McConnell and Saint Mary's Louella Tomlinson, had seven in 128 and 125 games, respectively.) She finished the season with 10.

The 2016-17 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year offers quality and quantity. She doesn't force the game or attempt ill-advised shots or passes. Instead, she has mastered the fundamentals and allows the game to come to her. She strikes the perfect balance by remaining patient and picking spots to be aggressive. And she controls the tempo with the composure of a classically trained maestro.

Oregon Women’s Basketball @OregonWBB

ANOTHER TRIPLE-DOUBLE! @sabrina_i20 does it in back-to-back games! She scored 16 points to go with 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Ducks defeat No. 19 Texas A&M, 83-68! Her six career triple-doubles ties the @pac12 record. #GoDucks https://t.co/51QTisT3xA

Don't make her out to be a stat-padder, either. Ionescu is all about team. She's hyper-aware of her teammates as well as of opponents' defensive breakdowns. The visionary leaps for rebounds and capitalizes on mismatches by feeding her teammates opportunities. The result in 2017-18: All five Ducks starters averaged double figures in scoring. Ionescu is an imposing threat as a career 43.0 percent three-point shooter, and when defenders close in, she makes quick reads—with little risk of turning it over (in 2017-18, she finished 20th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.6-to-1)—or will sacrifice her body for a trip to the free-throw line (where she's an 81.2 percent shooter).

Ionescu has transformed the Ducks from an easy out to a tough-to-beat team, leading them in 2017-18 to a program-best 33-5 record, the Pac-12 regular-season title and their first Pac-12 tournament title.

Ionescu has put her stamp on the college basketball world, and it's just halftime of her collegiate career.


Shana Renee is a Sports Cultural Analyst and the founder of AllSportsEverything.com. Her features include Black Enterprise, espnW, Essence, MSNBC, Refinery29 and several others. A passionate New York Jets, Knicks and Yankees fan, follow her sports talk on Twitter and Instagram at @ItsShanaRenee.

Check out more game-changers on the B/R POWER 50 Level Up list:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
3. Chloe Kim
4. WWE Women's Division
5. A'ja Wilson
6. Sylvia Fowles
7. Aaron Judge
8. Shohei Ohtani
9. Russell Westbrook
10. Sabrina Ionescu

Explore the B/R POWER 50, a list of the most influential people in sports culture right now >>