University of Oregon star basketball player, Sabrina Ionescu, delivered another masterful performance and this one was one for the NCAA record books. Ionescu did so by becoming the first college basketball player -- male or female -- to have 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in her career.
Making this achievement even more impressive - she reached this milestone just hours after the 22-year-old Oregon Ducks star spoke at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's memorial service in Los Angeles. Ionescu was eloquent and her words were heartfelt as she displayed what a class act she is both on and off the basketball court. Imagine yourself at 22 years of age having to speak in front of 1000's of people in attendance at the service (including many basketball immortals and celebrities) and hundreds of thousands more who were watching it on TV. She was magnificent and impressed the heck out of me personally both watching her on TV speak at the memorial and then watching the game later that day.
Within hours of her speech, she was back on the basketball court after taking a chartered charter flight to the Bay Area to take on No. 4 Stanford. Ionescu entered the game just nine rebounds shy of the 1000 rebound mark and reached it early in the third quarter. She finished the night with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. It was her 26th career triple double and eighth of the season. Ionescu is the all-time NCAA leader -- for women and men -- in triple doubles. So not only did she help No. 3 Oregon to a 74-66 win, but Ionescu made the historic leap into the NCAA record books.
Another interesting and poignant fact about this memorial service and record-breaking game for Ionescu, it all happened on 2/24/20. Those are the basketball jersey numbers of Gianna, Kobe and herself. Ionescu had developed a friendship with Kobe and Gianna, working out with Gianna in the summer while helping Kobe coach games. Ionescu said at the memorial service, "To do it on 2/24/20 is huge...I can't really put that into words. I just know Kobe's looking down and really proud of me."
She continued at the service saying, "I still text (Kobe) even though he's not here." "Thank you for everything. The rest is for you. Rest easy, my guy. The last one I sent him said, 'I miss you. May you rest in peace my dear friend.' "The texts go through but no response. It still feels like he's there, on the other end, that the next time I pick up my phone, he would have hit me back. Sometimes I find myself still waiting."
Later that day after the emotional day and with a big win over Stanford, Ionescu was asked what the hardest part of her long day was by the media: "Everything," she said. "You know, you kind of try and hide some of those emotions and so you get there in Staples Center and they all come back to you. Being able to speak was such an honor for me and being able to hear everyone speak. I tried to do everything I could to try and hold it together earlier in the day and tonight and my team helped me a lot doing that."
Ionescu, who last year led Oregon to the Final Four and was considered the top prospect for the WNBA, opted to return to Oregon for her senior season. Once again, she's projected to be the top pick in the WNBA draft, which is in April. Sabrina Ionescu is a collegiate sports icon and secured that hard earned title on 2/24/20 in more ways than one. She is impressive to watch and bound for greatness in the WNBA but first up - winning the NCAA Championship with two guiding spirits helping her along.
Photo courtesy of Fox Sports
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