Sabrina Ionescu’s Big Moment Wasn’t the One She Expected

NCAA tourney has been canceled, it read.

Call me.

Ionescu hauled herself back to Eugene and holed up in her apartment with her twin, who plays for the Oregon men’s team.

Everything was uncertain in this new life, far from the career transition she had just been planning. No stirring run to the national title. Tons of time. Alarm clock off. She ordered takeout Mexican food and used her mother’s recipe to cook stuffed bell peppers. She caught up with “The Bachelor” and read one of the books from Bryant’s “The Wizenard Series,” about a struggling youth basketball team transformed by a magical coach.

Eugene felt barren, she saidin a telephone interview. When she went with her brother to Costco, instead of turning heads and finding herself surrounded by a clutch of fans, she saw people keeping their distance.

To steady her mind, Ionescu focused on routine. She ran sprints on an open field. She returned again and again to her arena, to sweat and to send rainbow jump shots flying and to think.

It was what she could control.

Was she scared?

No. Not really.

Then a moment passed and she hedged, acknowledging the hard truth of the moment.

“It’s more like the fear of the unknown. Not really knowing what is going to happen next,” she said. “For me, it’s when the W.N.B.A. might start. What about the draft? What does the future have in store? Is there going to be a season, are they going to push it back? I don’t have answers to any of that. I don’t have any answers at all.”

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