Celebrating the Careers of NCAAW Stars

Celebrating+the+Careers+of+NCAAW+Stars

Kiera Burns, Staff Writer

With the careers of so many college athletes cut short due to the Covid-19 crisis, many seniors are being highlighted and celebrated. Because many top college basketball players declare for the draft before their senior year, many underclassmen’s college careers have also ended before they could compete for the championship. Many athletes deserve recognition and celebration, and these women are no exception. 

 

Sabrina Ionescu – Oregon 

Sabrina Ionescu made headline after headline this season and is set to be the #1 WNBA draft pick for the upcoming season. Known for her competitiveness, Ionescu led the Ducks to an incredibly successful 31-2 record (17-1 conference). Ionescu became the first college basketball player, regardless of gender, to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 1,000 assists, earning praise from greats like Steph Curry and Dwayne Wade. She also completed her 26th triple-double, all the same day she spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial. She even achieved this on February 24th (2-24-20), lining up with the numbers of Gianna, Kobe, and herself. The two were incredibly close, so Kobe’s untimely death in January was extremely hard for Ionescu. She wrote in an Instagram post that Kobe was her “mentor, idol, inspiration, and close friend.”

Ionescu racked up honors and awards as her final college season came to a close, as she was unanimously voted Women’s AP Player of the year and the Senior CLASS Award as voted on by D1 coaches, media, and fans. For the third year in a row, she has been one of the recipients of the John R Wooden Award, received the Wade award for the second year in a row, and was selected as an All-American. Ionescu has dominated college basketball, and she will undoubtedly dominate in the WNBA. 

 

Lauren Cox – Baylor

 The story of Lauren Cox is one of true persistence. Cox has fought back after multiple injuries and still managed to be a vocal leader for her team. The senior suffered a heartbreaking foot injury in Baylor’s victory in the 2019 championship game against then-powerhouse Notre Dame. Although she only played part of the game she was still an incredible influence

she had to exit the game with what many feared was a torn ACL, but thankfully was a minor injury and was able to return to her team this season.  She was once again sidelined with a foot injury in November but bounced back to lead her team to be ranked No. 3. In addition, Lauren Cox has Type 1 Diabetes and was diagnosed when she was 7. She has inspired other athletes with the same condition, and thanks to her, Baylor plays a Type 1 awareness game each year. This year, it was played against Lubbock Christian, DII champions of which her sister Whitney, who also has Type 1, plays for. She will, unfortunately, be unable to compete for back-to-back championships and told the media that “heartbroken is an understatement” (via ESPN). Cox was named an All-American for the third year in a row and was the Big 12 player of the year. Finishing with an impressive 1,570 career points, Lauren Cox leaves a lasting legacy as a Lady Bear. 

 

Crystal Dangerfield- UConn

Aside from likely having the best name on this list, Dangerfield has helped to lead the always dominant UConn Huskies, coming off their 7th ACC Title, to a 29-3 record, with an unblemished conference record. Although the Huskies did not have quite as successful a season as usual, finishing at a drastically low No. 5 in the country, the Huskies were still very impressive. The senior Point Guard has taken a leadership role this season, and has lived up to expectations. UConn consistently has star seniors and leadership and Dangerfield is no exception. She started every game she played in and scored 10+ points in 24 games this year. She has an impressive assist record, including being No. 2 in UConn history with 255, during her career. No. 1 happens to be current WNBA star Sue Bird. With 3 Final Fours behind her, Dangerfield will bring an edge that so many Huskies do to the WNBA. 

 

Chennedy Carter – Texas A&M

Junior guard Chennedy Carter declared for the draft in late March, to pursue what she called “childhood dreams” to be in the WNBA. If she goes No. 4 as predicted, she will be the highest pick in Texas A & M program history. A dominant scorer, she averaged 21.3 points per game this season, finishing her college career with 1,983 points, second in program history. She was named an All-American and was a member of the first all SEC team – both three years in a row.  Despite missing a month of the season with an ankle injury, she bounced right back – with 37 points in her second game after returning. Carter consistently dominates in the NCAA tournament, as the second player in history to lead scoring average two years in a row. 

 

Satou Sabally – Oregon

Satou Sabally is another Junior who has declared for the draft, but she did so in February when the NCAA a run for the championship still seemed to be a possibility. Sabally is a very admirable student-athlete, as she will graduate early this summer with law school in mind for her future. She shared on Instagram that “As a first-generation college student, the education I have received is the most important thing to me”. Sabally told ESPN of her decision was based on the opportunity to provide a better life for her family financially including family members in Gambia: “I feel like I can finally give back and make their lives a little bit easier” (via ESPN). Although WNBA players are still far from receiving NBA-level salaries, pay increases were announced this year with 53% pay increases and a variety of other benefits. Sabally had a successful 3 year run at Oregon, earning various honors starting her freshman year. Then, she was Pac-12 Freshman of the year. Sophomore year, she was selected to an all-Pac-12. She has been a leader for the 24-2 Ducks this year and will be the same for her future WNBA team. 

 

Despite postponing their season, the WNBA Draft will occur virtually on April 17th, and it will be televised by ESPN. It was previously announced to be shown on ESPN2,  but thanks to pressure from fans and Ionescu herself, ESPN announced the change.