New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu is returning to the place where her basketball legend began. The 2022 WNBA All-Star has taken a part-time position as Oregon's director of athletic culture, Ducks coach Kelly Graves announced Friday.
According to an Oregon release, Ionescu will help develop student-athletes and serve as a "resource and example for current, former and future Ducks."
"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 in a statement. "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."
While Ionescu says a part of her heart remains at Oregon, she became a program great by leaving her entire heart on the floor each night for the Ducks. Over her four years in Eugene, Ionescu won the John R. Wooden and Wade trophies twice, became the first player in NCAA history to record 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds, and 1,000 career assists, and set an all-time NCAA record for triple-doubles with 26.
Graves, who saw Ionescu make history, thinks the 24-year-old can bring a similar impact to Oregon in an off-court capacity.
"There is no better person I could think of for this position than Sabrina," Graves said. "Sabrina exemplifies what it means to be an Oregon Duck and she represents everything our program is about. 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."
After leaving the Ducks following the 2019-20 season, Ionescu broke into the professional ranks as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Ionescu is coming off a career-best season in which she earned All-WNBA Second Team and WNBA All-Star honors, and she led the Liberty to its second consecutive playoff appearance after a three-year postseason drought.