Sabrina Ionescu hasn’t flinched.
Ionescu is the nation’s fourth-ranked girls’ basketball prospect in the Class of 2016 according to ESPNw and the only one in the top 25 who has yet to announce her college decision.
But she’s not bothered by that latter fact, and she hasn’t felt even a twinge of regret as she has watched the rest of the top 25 – and indeed 97 of the top 100 – choose their universities.
“I’m taking my own path and not letting anyone alter it,” said Ionescu, an 18-year-old senior point guard at Miramonte (Orinda, Calif). “I tried to get it done (in November’s early signing period) to not have to deal with all the questions and everyone asking me every day.
“But I wanted to let it play out and let the true colors of the schools play out. I wanted to see how the coaches interact with me after a win and after a loss.
“I wanted to let other people make their decisions and see if or how their (criteria) differs from mine. I wanted to let the November period pass and all that pressure to give me a couple of extra months to be a kid and play high school basketball.”
Time is almost up, however.
Decision time looms, and Ionescu said she knows which university is in the lead for her services.
She’s just not saying.
Not yet, anyway, and not even on the first day of the next signing period, which begins in a month on April 13.
Ionescu, who is 6-foot and 140 pounds and was a member of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Preseason Team, announced four finalists in the fall: Cal, Oregon State, Oregon and Texas. Since then, she has eliminated Texas.
“My relationship with the coaches at Texas weren’t at the level they should have been,” said Ionescu, who is averaging 26.5 points this season. “And I don’t think the relationship would’ve been built up by the time I needed to decide. I don’t think they would’ve been the best option for me.”
Ionescu said she left a voicemail for the Texas coaches in the fall, alerting them of her decision. She said she never heard back. College coaches are not allowed to talk about unsigned recruits.
“They are probably a bit upset, but they have a very good recruiting class coming in, and I don’t think they are too bothered,” she said.
As for Cal, Oregon State and Oregon, Ionescu said it’s not a three-way tie.
Ionescu said she has them clearly ranked in her mind, but this is not the time to announce her decision, not with Miramonte ranked No. 5 in the Super 25 and making its playoff run. Miramonte is 29-0 and plays Brookside (Stockton) in the CIF Open Division playoffs on Friday night.
“My season is still going on, and I want to focus on our team goal,” she said. “It’s about the team and where we are going and not about where I’m going.”
Ionescu, who is so smooth she makes the game look effortless, has already won two gold medals while playing for Team USA – at the 2013 FIBA Americas U-16 championships in Cancun, Mexico and at the 2014 U-17 FIBA World Championships in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
Miramonte coach Kelly Sopak, who also directs Ionescu in club ball with the Cal Stars, said he expects Ionescu to announce her decision sometime between April 18 and May 18.
Her high school season could stretch as long as March 26. After that, she is expected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game on March 30 at the United Center in Chicago and the Jordan Brand Classic on April 15 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Jordan rosters for the girls game have yet to be announced.
Ionescu will attend her “Senior Ball” in May and her graduation ceremonies in June. She plans to enroll in college classes – destination as yet unknown – in late June.
Her twin brother, Eddy, is set to attend Oregon this fall as a walk-on basketball player, which may give the Ducks an edge with Sabrina. Cal, which would keep her closest to home, also has an advantage to play.
But for Ducks, Bears and Beavers fans who badly want to know her decision, she has kept that sealed for now.
And with only three of the top 100 seniors in the nation still uncommitted — the next highest is No. 27, Tyasha Harris from Indiana — Ionescu figures to get substantial attention from women’s basketball fans, coaches and media members in the weeks and days leading up to her decision.
But that’s not what she prefers.
“She doesn’t want the fanfare,” Sopak said. “If she could just drive to whatever school she picks and show up on the first day of school, that would be her choice.”