EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon Ducks point guard Sabrina Ionescu will return to play her senior season for Oregon.
Ionescu, a two-time Pac-12 player of the year and the all-time NCAA leader in career triple-doubles, was projected to be a top pick in the WNBA draft if she left Oregon.
The 21-year-old California native, who led the program to its first Final Four this season, announced her decision in an article for The Players Tribune early Saturday night.
"I came to the University of Oregon as a freshman in 2016-2017. We made the Elite Eight (and lost big). I came back to the University of Oregon as a sophomore in 2017-2018. We made the Elite Eight (and lost close). I came back to the University of Oregon as a junior in 2018-2019. We made the Final Four," Ionescu wrote in the article, titled "A Letter to Ducks Nation."
"And now I couldn’t be happier to announce that I’m coming back to the University of Oregon for the 2019-2020 basketball season. I won’t predict exactly how far we’re going to go ... but I’ll just say this. We have unfinished business."
Ionescu spoke to the media about her decision during a press conference in Eugene on Tuesday.
Anticipation reached a fever pitch in the days leading up to her announcement, with reports surfacing Friday and earlier Saturday that Ionescu had declared for the WNBA draft.
Friday, after the Ducks fell to the Baylor Lady Bears 72-67 in the NCAA Final Four, Ionescu told reporters she hadn’t made up her mind about going pro.
"I have no idea," Ionescu told ESPN. "I haven’t thought about any of that yet. I’m going to get back and figure out what’s important to me and what I’m going to do."
Saturday’s letter, which started with an anecdote about her brother sending an ESPN+ video feature on her by Kobe Bryant, Ionescu reflected on her three years in Eugene.
"I bet from the outside looking in, when people see me, and they see this season we’ve had as a team and this season I’ve had as a player — you know, they probably think: she’s gotta go pro," she wrote. "They see Oregon Women’s Basketball playing in the Final Four ... almost making the title game. They see me breaking the triple-doubles record and getting scouted by Kobe on ESPN+, and all of that. And they think, What an incredible journey. This is as good as it gets."
Ionescu continued on, writing, "But the truth is? They’re only half right. Yes, this has been an incredible journey. But no, this is NOT as good as it gets."
A daughter of Romanian immigrants who came to the United States after the Romanian Revolution, Ionescu is credited with transforming the Ducks women’s program into an annual Pac-12 contender.
"Something is happening here," she wrote. "We’re building a program — and not just any program. We're building a program that wins national championships. Starting, I hope, with this next one."
She finished the letter with shout-outs to her friends, family, high school coach and others, writing:
"Ducks Nation — I’ll see you next year. Let’s see some packed houses.
"Kobe — I’ll see you next year, too. Hope you keep watching.
"And WNBA — I’ll see you soon. Real soon, I promise.
"Just have some business to take care of first."