WALNUT CREEK, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES. (APRIL 17, 2020) (WNBA-MUST COURTESY WNBA. NO ARCHIVE USE.)
1. (SOUNDBITE)(English) NUMBER ONE OVERALL WNBA DRAFT PICK SABRINA IONESCU SAYING
REPORTER'S QUESTION: "Ok first question Sabrina. What were you thinking when you heard your name called by commissioner Engelbert?
SABRINA IONESCU SAYING: "Yeah just relief and really excited to be able to have heard my name called and be here with my close family and just celebrate that with them."
EUGENE, OREGON, UNITED STATES (APRIL 17, 2020) (WNBA-MUST COURTESY WNBA. NO ARCHIVE USE.)
2. (SOUNDBITE)(English) NUMBER TWO OVERALL WNBA DRAFT PICK FROM GERMANY SATU SABALLY SAYING
REPORTER'S QUESTION: "Tell me how did it feel when you heard your name called ?"
SATOU SABALLY: "Just a relief. I was so happy when I heard my name and when I got my name called all my dreams just flashed. I was so happy I felt like a little kid, It was really, really big and having my family right by me I just felt so much love and appreciation for what I do."
REPORTER'S QUESTION: "I read that your nickname is the unicorn? Tell me what skills and qualities you'll provide for your new team?"
SATOU SABALLY SAYING: "I feel like I'm always kind of surprise on the team. I'm really versatile. I'm agile and I'll be able to play on multiple positions so whatever coach wants me to be I will be. I feel like bringing that into Dallas just gives me a lot of options of what i'll have to do and what I will do."
REPORTER'S QUESTION: "What do you know about your new city, your team, and your team-mates?"
SATOU SABALLY SAYING: "I'm kind of familiar with the city now because I've been there a couple of times throughout the past year but I also know we are a really young team, a really promising team, you know, young players like Arike (Guard Arike Ogunbowale) who I've played against and lost against and I know how valuable they are. I've been really looking up to these players and just being able to be on a team with them shows me I can build a culture with them since that's really important to me to have a happy atmosphere then I really think you can achieve big things. We will have to grow and we will have to learn a lot but I believe the hunger in these players will do something really big."
STORY: Sabrina Ionescu was selected first overall in the WNBA's draft on Friday (April 17) , as quarantined coaches and players pivoted to an online format amid life in the era of the new coronavirus.
The University of Oregon guard, the first NCAA player to score 2,000 career points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists, was selected by the New York Liberty, as the franchise looks to rebuild after back-to-back seasons of lackluster performance.
The 22-year-old pressed her hands to her face and smiled when her name was called before embracing family members at a house in California, as players across the country waited their turn with remote cameras set up, away from the typical glamour of draft night.
The evening went off without any significant technology malfunctions, as the world of professional sports adjusts to social distancing and the NFL readies for its own virtual draft next week.
Forward Satou Sabally, also out of the University of Oregon, was the second player selected, going to the Dallas Wings, and Baylor forward Lauren Cox was taken third by the Indiana Fever.
Eighteen-time NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant, a fierce advocate for the league who died alongside his daughter, Gigi, in a January helicopter crash, loomed over the evening.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the new Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award during the broadcast and posthumously drafted Gigi and her teammates Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli.
The former NBA Commissioner and WNBA founder David Stern, who died in January, was honored as well.
Broadcasting from her house, Engelbert's first draft since assuming the commissioner role nine months ago was unlike any before, with the coronavirus having put on hold the WNBA season, which had been slated to kick off on May 15.
(Production: Peter Bullock)