Sabrina Ionescu is ready for a full season in the WNBA after an injury-shortened rookie year.
She has her eye on a matchup with Diana Taurasi, who is widely considered the league's GOAT.
The New York Liberty star told Insider she's "always looked up to her and the way she's played."
After a brutal ankle injury cut her rookie season short, Sabrina Ionescu is ready to test her abilities against the WNBA's best.
And she already has a date circled on her calendar in advance of one highly-anticipated matchup.
On Sunday, June 13, the Oregon Ducks sensation-turned-New York Liberty top overall 2020 WNBA Draft pick will face off against the Phoenix Mercury and their sharpshooting superstar, widely considered the WNBA's greatest of all time.
"Diana Taurasi," Ionescu told Insider while discussing her recent campaign for BODYARMOR. "I honestly missed out on playing against almost everyone, so a lot of the players I'm excited for, but Diana for sure."
Heading into her 17th year in the league, Taurasi leads the WNBA in career points, three-pointers, field goals, free throws, and offensive win shares. And despite turning 39 years old early in the upcoming season, the 10-time All-WNBA first-team selection has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Ionescu and Taurasi have a common connection in late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. While Ionescu played at Oregon, Bryant took the budding star under his wing and helped pass on his world-famous "Mamba Mentality" to her. Taurasi long saw Bryant as the NBA's greatest player, and the longtime Los Angeles Laker returned the admiration by dubbing her "White Mamba" as a spinoff of his own "Black Mamba" moniker.
It's no surprise, then, that the soon-to-be WNBA superstar would have her eye on a matchup against Taurasi.
"I've always looked up to her," Ionescu said. "And the way she's played. I'm just excited to play against her."
Like Ionescu - who used to hustle grown men for Slurpee money alongside her twin brother - Taurasi is deeply, almost scarily competitive. She once told a referee, "I'll see you in the lobby later," in response to a foul call she didn't like. Another time, she trash-talked Floyd Mayweather while playing a particularly chippy game against his favorite WNBA team - the Los Angeles Sparks.
Taurasi hasn't been shy about her feelings on facing fresh blood in the W, telling Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe last year that "every time you play rookies, you just want to f---ing kill them."
"It happens in different ways," Taurasi said on "A Touch More" with Bird and Rapinoe. "It happens in like 'Oh, you had such a great senior year, I'm about to bust your ass right now. Oh, that's great. Bye!'"
As a triple-double machine and only player in Division I history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in a career, Ionescu has long been billed as one of the next greats of the league. And though Ionescu isn't exactly a rookie, Taurasi will surely be ready to bring the heat once June 13 rolls around.
But after many months away from the hardwood, Ionescu says she's ready for her "Welcome to the WNBA" moment.
"It's just an opportunity to grow," she said. "So I'm excited to be like, 'Oh, wow, this is what it's like to play in the league!'"
Read the original article on Insider