It appears the writing is on the wall for the New York Liberty and their first overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, which occurs Friday.
Oregon Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu is the top candidate to land in New York when the Liberty are on the clock. In fact, it really might be all but set in stone.
But she'll have to wait for that moment like everyone else. Before the draft kicks off, though, Ionescu spoke with SNY's Maria Marino via conference call to discuss the prospect of playing in New York. Not only does she view it as a great opportunity to develop her skills in the Big Apple, but she would also focus on building her brand for women's basketball, too.
"Honestly, I haven't been to New York that many times. I've only been there twice, so I don't really know a lot about New York," Ionescu said. "But I am definitely, hopefully, excited for that opportunity to play there at Barclays Center and just the marketability there in New York, the hustle and bustle is something that can be beneficial not only to myself as a person, but as a brand for women's basketball. So if I get that opportunity, I'll definitely be excited to use that to the best of my ability."
The reason everyone is pegging Ionescu to New York isn't just because she was the NCAA's best women's basketball player last season. It's also the fact that the Liberty made way for Ionescu by trading Tina Charles to the Washington Mystics as part of a three-team deal on Wednesday.
Charles is a former WNBA MVP, but at 31 years old on a rebuilding team, the Liberty decided to move on and get some more draft capital -- the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 draft as well as a first-, second-, and third-round pick in the 2021 draft.
The team is under new ownership, with Nets majority owner Joe Tsai purchasing the team last year, and his new direction of having the team play at Barclays Center among other things seems to involve the roster as well.
Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins admitted that the team did its due diligence on the other top candidates for the No. 1 pick.
"We had to look at everybody in consideration for the top pick... Satou Sabally, Lauren Cox, Chennedy Carter, Tyasha Harris," Hopkins said. "...Any can be a cornerstone-type player depending on how you use them."
But all roads and avenues seem to be leading to Ionescu donning Liberty gear from home when the draft begins on Friday night.
"I think the potential is there without question," said Olympic gold medalist and current ESPN WNBA analyst Rebecca Lobo to Marino. "To me, she's a perfect fit for New York. The New York fan base is just a little different. There's an awareness of sports and sports culture and she's perfectly suited for that, not only her game which is next level but her personality, drive, will to win... She lives for the big moments."