Stay the course. When you get knocked down, you get back up. You keep at it and trust that what you’re doing will pay off. Perseverance goes a long way and when you make it out of the storm, you feel a sense of pride in what you were able to accomplish and hope for what the future has in store for you.
The first two years of Sabrina Ionescu’s WNBA journey were pretty rough. A nagging ankle injury cut her season short in in 2020 and limited her effectiveness in 2021. Although there were flashes of greatness those first two years, she hadn’t taken that next step and had yet to fully enter the ranks of elite guards in basketball. In 2022, she reminded people just how excellent she is.
On Thursday evening, the WNBA announced that Ionescu was named to the All-WNBA second team.
Congratulations, @sabrina_i20 ! Sabrina Ionescu has been voted to the 2022 All-WNBA Second Team. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/Vrp3SIBU4Z— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 16, 2022
She is the first Liberty player to be named All-WNBA since Epiphany Prince back in 2015. Joining her on the team were:
- Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks
- Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun
- Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx
- Jonquel Jones of the Sun
On the first team were:
- 2022 MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces
- Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm
- Candace Parker of the Chicago Sky
- Skylar Diggins-Smith of the Phoenix Mercury
- Kelsey Plum of the Aces
In a statement, the Liberty All Star said:
“I’m honored to be named to the All-WNBA Second Team alongside some of the league’s very best. Coming into this year healthy was a difference-maker, and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface as to what we can accomplish together.” “As exciting as this award is, I’m even more excited for the future of the New York Liberty organization.”
The award was well deserved for Sab as she finished:
- Eighth in scoring (17.4 points per game on .411/.333/.931 shooting splits)
- 12th in rebounding (7.1 rebounds per game)
- Third in assists (6.3 dimes per game)
- Seventh in minutes (32.4 minutes per game)
She also appeared in every game for the first time in her career. Ionescu has a lot of responsibilities on her shoulders, but she's stepped up and led the way for an ascendant Liberty franchise. Along the way, she had her fair share of incredible moments
She's already one of the all time triple double leaders in W history, joining her All WNBA peers CP and AT. Pretty, pretty, pretty good!
With Ionescu getting better by the day, defenses have keyed in on her even more. After a dominant win against the Lynx in June, we asked Ionescu about handling all the different coverages thrown at her, and here's what she told us:
I feel like we don't get a lot of answers like this in NBA pressers.— Crina Mustafa (@crinamm) June 9, 2022
Love this answer from Sab about learning how to play against defenses!#OwntheCrown #WNBATwitter #MoreThan pic.twitter.com/3MLzOBENX4
The staff writers over at The Next helped explain why Sab got this award, writing:
"By the end of the regular season, she was averaging over 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game, something only Candace Parker has ever done previously. But beyond that, Ionescu made significant improvements to her game, broke countless records, and was a vital piece in the effort to pull New York into the playoffs."
Ionescu is healthy and on the rise. In her end of season exit interview, she mentioned that she’s excited to develop her game even further this offseason and not have to rehab her ankle. The Liberty believe that they can break into the top four of the WNBA standings, and with Ionescu running things, they have a chance to do that and more.
A cut above
The good news didn't stop there. If you think back to her interview with Rich Kleiman of Boardroom x 35 Ventures, she spoke about her partnership with Nike and the investment they have in women's sports. Sab and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns are the faces of the new Nike Air Zoom GT Cut 2.
A first look at @sabrina_i20 in the new @Nike Zoom G.T. Cut 2.— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) September 13, 2022
Her PE colorway is set to release on October 13th. pic.twitter.com/249riEb0HG
Ionescu is one of the future faces of the WNBA and she, along with the new class of superstars like A’ja Wilson, will help take the game to new heights.
Going for the gold
With the WNBA season due to wrap up in a few days, the basketball world will turn its sights to Australia! That's where this year's FIBA Women's basketball World Cup will be as the United States looks to bring home another gold.
The Liberty will be well represented in the World Cup. Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, and Stef Dolson are in Australia for training camp and are good bets to make the squad when final rosters are announced on September 20. Dolson in particular has a lot of Team USA experience as she won a 3x3 Gold Medal in the last Olympics and has some other FIBA gold medals to her name as well. When the Finals wrap up, the entire Team USA cohort will be ready to make it happen and try to keep the gold in the United States.
Not to be outdone, some more members of the Libs are in Australia hoping to bring gold home for their countries. Marine Johannes is here with the French National Team. Han Xu figures to play a major role for the Chinese National Team. 2022 Draft pick, Sika Kone, has been wowing people in the qualifying tournaments and has a chance to become even more well known with a strong showing here. And the host country, Australia, will be looking to show out for the home folks.
Australia has versatile wing, Rebecca Allen, three point ace and veteran leader, Sami Whitcomb, and head coach, Sandy Brondello. Australia will also be buoyed by the return of Basketball Hall of Famer and all around legend, Lauren Jackson. Basketball is forever, and the tournament gets started on September 21. Buckle up!