Ionescu named AP National Player of the Year; Six more nationally recognized
SAN FRANCISCO - As the postseason honors roll in, Pac-12 student-athletes continue to be included among them. Today, the Associated Press announced that OREGON’s Sabrina Ionescu was unanimously voted the National Player of the Year, marking the second from the Pac-12 in four years. ARIZONA’s Aari McDonald was selected as a finalist for the Naismith Defensive National Player of the Year, and a Pac-12-record five were named USBWA All-Americans.
Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu (Walnut Creek, Calif.) becomes just the second player in the history of the AP National Player of the Year award to be an unanimous pick for the honor. She is also the second Pac-12 student-athlete in the history of the award, and second in four years, to win the trophy. Ionescu is the national player of the year after having a history-making season where she became the first player in NCAA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. Averaging 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game, she was already named the ESPN.com National Player of the Year and was tabbed the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the third-consecutive year. The all-time NCAA men’s or women’s leader in triple-doubles with 26, she was an All-Pac-12 selection for the fourth year in a row. She led the Ducks to a 31-2 record, a Pac-12 regular-season and tournament crown, and was projected to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Ionescu was also named a finalist for the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award, presented to the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete.
Arizona’s Ari McDonald (Fresno, Calif.) was named one of four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. She was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season, leading the Conference with 20.6 points and 2.5 steals per game. She helped the Wildcats post the best scoring defense in the Pac-12, limiting opponents to 56.6 points per game, which also ranked 24th in the country. McDonald is joined by South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, Baylor’s DiDi Richardson and Louisville’s Kylee Shook among the finalists.
Five from the Pac-12 were also named USBWA All-Americans, which was announced today by the United State Basketball Writers Association. Along with Ionescu, teammate Ruthy Hebard (Fairbanks, Alaska) was named to the first team. Hebard was the national leader in field goal percentage (68.5 percent).
McDonald and Oregon’s Satou Sabally (Berlin, Germany) were named second team All-Americans, while UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere (Aurora, Colo.) was a third-team pick. Sabally averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, both ranked in the top-10 in the Pac-12. Onyenwere was the league’s second-leading scorer at 18.9 points per game and was fourth in rebounding (8.5 rpg), leading the Bruins to a tie for second place in the Pac-12, the team’s best since 2011.
The five USBWA All-Americans are the most for the Conference in a season, besting last season’s three honorees which had tied for the most since 1993.
Honorable mention All-America status also went to Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec and Stanford’s Kiana Williams.