Eugene, Ore. -- The college basketball season ended abruptly and swiftly which forced those declaring for the WNBA draft to confront an uncomfortable reality: there was as much uncertainty inthe college game as there would be in the pros, at least for now. Satou Sabally, the Oregon junior who had declared for the WNBA Draft before the end of the regular season, all of a sudden was having second thoughts.
"I was really unsure about everything," she says. "I feel like the whole world was like that. I didn’t know what should be my next step, if it’s the right decision to go pro or not due to all the circumstances. We still don’t know if there will be a WNBA season."
"It was kind of risky, but on the other hand I also thought I was ready to leave and this is part of being a professional, and if it’s during these times and uncertainties I will experience them now as a professional," she continues. "I still feel ready to take on the challenge and accept it as it is."
Sabally says the moment finally sunk in when she put in her paperwork to formally declare for the WNBA Draft and be listed as a professional athlete.
"I feel like the first time it really clicked was when I sent in my papers to the WNBA office, " Sabally explains. "Once I put in those papers I thought 'oh my god, I hope I made the right decision.'"
Since then, the German junior has been projected to go second overall in Friday's draft behind her Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu and has signed with the Wasserman agency alongside another former Duck, Ruthy Hebard. Ionescu signed with WME/IMG to help with her off court endorsements and branding. Like Sabrina, Sabally also has plans to do as much work off the court as on it, and to be an athlete with a brand and platform that stands for more than basketball.
"I feel like I've elevated myself so much that people listen to me and I have a platform, " she says. "I would definitely continue that basketball is not the only thing people will hear from me. I want to accomplish more than sports. Everyone can do what they want but to me it's so important to pay attention to your surroundings. Because you're a person first and not just an athlete first."
Hebard has similar plans and is also excited to be not only putting Oregon on the map, but her home state of Alaska as well. The senior has spoken with a few WNBA teams and has plans to expand her game beyond the pick-and-roll that characterized her time with the Ducks.
"I'm really excited to see how I match up against the bigger girls and be able to hold my own against them", says Hebard. "Hopefully I'll be able to expand my shot. That's one thing I really want to focus on next is expanding my shot and showing people I can shoot from farther out which can help me out as well as the team I go to."
The WNBA Draft will take place virtually, will be televised by ESPN and starts at 4 p.m. PST.