Sabrina Ionescu: Who Is The Oregon Basketball Player Speaking At Kobe Bryant’s Memorial?

Oregon Ducks basketball player Sabrina Ionescu spoke this morning at Kobe Bryant‘s memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. According to a report from Mercury News, Ionescu and Bryant became friends a couple of years ago with their shared love of basketball, something they held in common.

During the memorial, Ionescu described Kobe’s larger-than-life personality and positive outlook on life, saying “His vision for others is always bigger than what they imagine for themselves.” She would go on to describe her sense of loss at his passing.

“I still text him 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, at the other end.”

Kobe and Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash with seven others earlier this year, attended one of the NCAA player’s games at USC last January, and Kobe even spoke in the locker room. Kobe also showed up to support the team and Ionescu specifically last month when Oregon played Long Beach State. Also, last year when the Ducks reached the Final Four, Kobe spent an entire episode of his ESPN+ show Detail breaking down Ionescu’s game. The Ducks superstar credited his analysis in leading to her decision to complete her senior year at Oregon instead of going into the WNBA draft.

Ionescu Recorded Her NCAA Career Best Game On Friday

Ahead of Monday’s emotional memorial, Ionescu recorded her NCAA career-best game, which was also her 25th triple-double. During the matchup between the Ducks and the Golden Bears, Ionescu wracked up an impressive 17 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and she led the team to a 93 to 61 victory.

Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry sat courtside at Haas Pavilion and watched as the Ducks decisively won the game. The two time MVP brought his daughters, Riley and Ryan, to the game, according to an ESPN report. The matchup was the first women’s basketball game that Curry’s young daughters have attended.

Although no Division I player has ever reached the milestone of the 2,000-point, 1,000-rebound, 1,000-assist, Ionescu is close to hitting that mark. Currently, she sits at 991 rebounds, 2,446 points, and 1,029 assists.

Ionescu Built An Award-Winning High School & College Career

Ionescu played for Miramonte High School in Orinda, California, for four years growing up. Kelly Sopak coached her, and throughout her career, the team enjoyed a 119–9 record, and she posted a school-record 2,606 points throughout her tenure. Before she even played in college, Ionescu won USA Today Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Max Preps Player of the Year, and Gatorade State Player of the Year. Then, she also won the McDonald’s All-America game MVP.

Ionescu did not commit to Oregon during the time National Letter of Intent signing periods. However, she ultimately chose to play for the Ducks. Throughout her college career, Ionescu has achieved success, and after she completes college, she may go on to play professionally with the WNBA.

After speaking at the ceremony, which begins at 10 am PT, and by 6 pm PT, Ionescu will be on the hardwood at Maples Pavilion as the third-ranked Ducks face the fourth-ranked Cardinal. The game could decide the Pac-12 regular-season title, but Duck’s coach Kelly Graves felt that Ionescu is up to the challenge.

“Monday’s going to be a difficult day for her to speak at the memorial for Kobe and Gianna, but what a great opportunity and a great privilege and a great honor,” coach Graves said.

“And then to have to fly up and have to play what is going to be a really big game on Monday night, but if there’s anybody that can handle something like that, it’s her. She’ll use it as fuel. It wouldn’t surprise me if she has a game for the ages that night, because that’s how she’s wired.”

On Monday night, if Ionescu manages to make at least nine rebounds, she’ll also make NCAA Division 1 history.

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