Oregon All-American Sabrina Ionescu announces she will return for senior year

Sabrina Ionescu, the former Miramonte-Orinda player who has carved out a stellar career at Oregon, announced in The Players’ Tribune on Saturday that she will return to the Ducks for her senior season, bypassing a chance to leave early for the WNBA draft.

Per WNBA rules, an underclassman must announce her decision on whether she will enter the WNBA draft 24 hours of her last game. Oregon, in its first Final Four appearance, lost to Baylor 72-67 on Friday in Tampa, Fla.

Ionescu, the NCAA’s career leader in triple-doubles for both women and men, was projected by many to be the top pick in Wednesday’s WNBA draft.

“I couldn’t be happier to announce that I’m coming back to the University of Oregon for the 2019-2020 basketball season,” Ionescu wrote. “I won’t predict exactly how far we’re going to go….. but I’ll just say this. We have unfinished business. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. …

“We’re building something here in Eugene. We’re building something — together — that’s going to last for a long time after we’ve all graduated.”

The All-American guard called the loss to Baylor “one of the toughest losses of my life … agonizing.” In her three seasons at Oregon, the Ducks have seen their season end in the Elite Eight twice and now the Final Four.

She also noted she was humbled by shout-outs from Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who posted a video scouting Ionescu’s play in detail. She said she watched Bryant’s video on the way home from the Final Four, and took it as a challenge to better her game.

She closed her post by saying, “WNBA — I’ll see you soon. Real soon, I promise. Just have some business to take care of first.”

NCAA women’s final: Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw is excited that Sunday’s championship game in Tampa will have two women coaches as her Fighting Irish (35-3) face off against Kim Mulkey’s Baylor (36-1), the top overall seed.

It will be the first championship game since 2012 when both coaches were women — and it was the same two: Mulkey’s Bears beat McGraw’s Irish 80-61.

“The same two,” McGraw said after Friday night’s 81-76 semifinal win over UConn. “This weekend we’re all about basketball right now. So want to really focus on that. I am excited to have two women in the final.”

On Sunday, both schools will be looking for a third national championship.

UConn, which was beaten by Notre Dame in last year’s semifinals, captured four national straight championships from 2013-16. Tennessee went back-to-back in 2007-08, and USC won it all in 1983 and 1984.

Women’s NIT: Tournament MVP Aari McDonald scored a game-high 19 points as host Arizona defeated Northwestern 56-42 to win the Women’s NIT championship before 14,644 at the McKale Center in Tucson.

The Wildcats (24-13) completed a big turnaround under coach Adia Barnes. Arizona was 6-24 last season.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Oregon-All-American-Sabrina-Ionescu-announces-she-13747611.php.

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