NBA fans have trouble relating to women’s basketball. This may be because there really isn’t a player that dominates. If you watch tennis, you can appreciate the Serena sisters, or Alex Morgan for soccer fans. How can NBA fans relate to women’s hoops? I would say the best way is to make an NBA comparison. For women’s basketball, Sabrina Ionescu is the Russell Westbrook of women’s college basketball.
Why Russell Westbrook?
If you compare the games of Westbrook and Ionescu, they are very similar. Both love to get their teammates involved, rebound, and score at will. They are both good at this triple double thing. Russell Westbrook was the first NBA player to average a triple double for a season since Oscar Robinson in last year’s NBA season. This year, he is the first NBA player to average a triple double in back-to-back seasons.
Similarly, Ionescu has already set the women’s college basketball record for most triple doubles in only her sophomore season! She broke the record only 48 games into her career at Oregon with 8 triple doubles. She has now accrued 10 triple doubles. These players’ statistics are not their only similarity, their passion for the game of basketball is also on display every night.
Both players’ passion for the game of basketball are what sets them apart from the average ball player. Ionescu said on an interview with Andy Katz that she puts up around 500 shots per day. For a student athlete, it is already tough to put school and practices together. On her competitive nature and leadership skills, her coach, Kelly Graves says, “She’s our leader on the floor. She has help, but people look to her to set a tone. She is vocal and she leads by example. She’s our hardest-working player and I think she’s a really significant leader.”
In the same regard Westbrook’s passion could be seen from high school. Chris Palmer, a writer for the Bleacher Report, evaluating his high school talent said, “His motor, intensity and competitiveness affected nearly every play of the game. His competitiveness hasn’t changed since he has gotten to the NBA. He’s by far one of the most in-shape, game-changing player in the league. These qualities are what makes Westbrook and Ionescu very much alike.
Any NBA fan interested in women’s hoops need to look no further than watching Ionescu play. Her passion and skill for the game of basketball makes her one of the most exciting women’s college basketball players. She resembles Westbrook in the way she can rack up stats with her basketball IQ, and desire to do whatever it takes to lead her team to victory. Women’s basketball is on the upswing with fan support, and Ionescu is making sure it stays that way.