Basketball superstar

Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon was also a high school basketball superstar

Video: High School Highlights Sabrina Ionescu

Watch the Oregon All-American at Miramonte.

Sabrina Ionescu’s high school legend has now risen through the academic ranks. And after Monday’s spectacular double performance in Los Angeles and Palo Alto – while battling the flu – it’s hard to imagine his star power could increase much more.

Her high school coach Kelly Sopak said it would definitely be.

Sopak not only coached Ionescu through a distinguished preparation career in Miramonte (Orinda, Calif.), Which culminated with the 2015-16 MaxPreps National Basketball Player of the Year award and the McDonald’s All-American MVP, but he’s also guided her back as far as a third-year CYO player.

Even Sopak was taken aback by his former player on Monday. She delivered a moving 7-minute and 35-minute praise to her good friend Kobe Bryant at Staples Center in the morning before a swift plane flight to the Bay Area where Oregon was to face fourth-placed Stanford. In the game, she added to her NCAA record with a 26th triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, leading the No.3 Ducks to a 74-66 victory over the Cardinal.

Graphic by Ryan Escobar

In the third quarter, she racked up her 1,000 college career rebound to become the first female and male player in NCAA Division I history to collect 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in career.

“I’m not at all surprised,” Sopak said Tuesday of his accomplishments. “But then again, I knew Sabrina so well. Not everyone was aware of her amazing wit, tireless work ethic and relentless pursuit to be awesome.

“I expect this to continue to the next level. I’m just excited to be able to watch her play.”

He saw it up close during her four-year run at Miramonte where she led the Matadors to a 119-9 record, finishing with a 32-1 campaign. Her senior season, she averaged 28.5 points, 9.7 assists, 8.3 rebounds and 5.5 steals per game, underscored by a third straight win in the North Coast section and the California Championship. North.

After the third straight NCS title game, 82-67 against Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) at St. Mary’s College, the students of Miramonte put her on their shoulders.

Sopak said at the time: “I have coached Sabrina for so long, I almost forget how good she really is. But college coaches have told me that when she plays the game, it looks like that she plays chess and everybody. plays checkers. ”

Even then, Sopak, who coached her for an AAU 59-1 team that won a national title, said, “Sabrina is a rock star everywhere she goes. Not just local kids, everywhere we go. played – Hawaii, Wyoming, Arizona, Oregon. … I’m going to miss the fans looking for their pic with her. I’m going to miss coaching someone who lets me coach them. And I might just run out of having the best player on the pitch every night. ”

File photo by Greg Jungferman

Sabrina Ionesco, Miramonte

He has watched her closely throughout her career, but said he’s never prouder than watching her deliver the powerful eulogy to Bryant, with whom she befriended a year before his death, in front of more than 20,000 Staples fans and a worldwide audience.

She spoke to the biggest names in basketball today and to legendary players Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal.

“Growing up, I only knew one way to play basketball – fierce, with obsessive focus,” praised Ionescu. “I was definitely competitive. I wanted to be the best.… I grew up watching Kobe game after game, ring after ring, living his greatness without apologies.”

She spoke about her friendship with Kobe and how they connected and how he could and will change and develop women’s basketball.

“His view of others is always greater than what they imagine for themselves,” said Ionescu. “His vision for me was much bigger than mine. More importantly, he didn’t just show up in my world and walk away. He stayed.

“I miss you. May you rest in peace, my good friend.”

Immediately after concluding his eulogy, Sopak tweeted: “Better and more eloquent than any triple double. Truly an inspiration to all.”

On Tuesday he told us this: “I couldn’t be more proud of her not only for her performance on the pitch, but also for the way she performed off the pitch. She’s truly an inspiration to young players, fans and coaches all over the country. “


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