Eugene, Ore. -- Sabrina Ionescu's return to Oregon women's basketball was never about money or fame. It wasn't about what she could get out of the Ducks, or how much another season may help her own personal brand. Her decision came in about 45 minutes, during a 24 hour WNBA Draft declaration window that Ionescu describes as "horrible". And the feelings she had became the title of the Players Tribune piece announcing her return: unfinished business.
“I wasn’t really driven by money," Sabrina said to the media that stopped in on Tuesday. "That’s not what my goal is. That’s why I didn’t really worry about the salary and how much money I’d be getting. Hopefully, with the degree and the Masters I’ll be getting, that’ll take care of itself."
Ionescu will be pursuing a Masters' in advertising, marketing and brand management. Head Coach Kelly Graves joked that he hopes she'll be starting her own brand. But that can still wait another year. For now, it's about the road ahead.
“She’s so beloved, and I think she has the opportunity to impact the game far more as a collegiate this next year than as a pro," says Graves. "She’s going to be the face of women’s basketball and she’s going to have a bigger platform as a college senior."
Odd as that last statement is, it's true. Ionescu will have an opportunity to be elevated to a place few, if any, players have made it on the collegiate stage. And with so many players returning from the program's first ever Final Four trip, the expectations will be sky high in Eugene.
"Ultimately, I'd have wanted to come back for another one," Ionescu says of whether or not the Final Four loss impacted her decision to stay. "The goals I'm setting for my team would be exactly the same.'
The Ducks return all but two players from this years' team, those being seniors Maite Cazorla and Oti Gildon.