The New York Liberty didn’t waste time making an impact in the 2020 WNBA Draft, as it selected ex-University of Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu with the organization’s first-ever No. 1 pick in the Draft.
“It’s a historic night for the New York Liberty,” General Manager Jonathan Kolb said on NYLiberty.com. “Sabrina is a generational player whose resume speaks for itself and we are thrilled to have her as our first-ever No.1 pick. We look forward to adding her to the Liberty family as we work to re-establish ourselves as one of the top teams in the league for years to come.”
Ionescu (pronounced yo-NESS-coo) becomes just the ninth Duck in program history to be taken in the draft and the first-ever to be drafted in the first round.
Ionescu has been at the forefront of Oregon’s success, helping to guide the Ducks to two straight trips to the NCAA Elite Eight during her freshman and sophomore years, the Final Four as a junior, and the Pac-12 Tournament Championship title in her senior campaign, which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the 5-foot-11-inch guard is the program’s all-time leader in points with 2562, three-pointers (329), assists (1091), triple-doubles (26), and double-figure scoring games (134).
Plus, she was the first player–female or male–in NCAA history with over 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds (1,040) and over 1,000 career assists.
Next, the Liberty selected former University of Connecticut forward Megan Walker with the ninth overall pick, which was acquired through Wednesday’s trade with the Dallas Wings.
Walker amassed 1,251 points, 473 field goals (46.5%), 141 three-pointers (42.2%) and 559 rebounds. In her junior campaign, Walker averaged 19.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest.
She was recently named a 2020 AP and USBWA First Team All-American, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Then, New York acquired Jocelyn Willoughby, the 10th pick in the draft, from the Phoenix Mercury via trade. The Liberty traded the rights to Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who was also acquired in Wednesday’s trade with the Mystics that included Tina Charles.
Willougby, a 6-foot guard/forward from Virginia, grew up just 16 miles from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in West Orange, New Jersey. She totaled 1,622 points on 566 field goals, 119 three-pointers (38.8%) and grabbed 868 rebounds.
Willougby, who attended Newark Academy in East Orange, New Jersey, earned the 2016 Gatorade New Jersey Girl’s Basketball Player of the Year honor and helped her team capture Prep B state titles in her freshman and sophomore years.
The Liberty posted a 7-27 record during the 2019 season.
— Jerry Del Priore