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Sabally becomes 12th Duck to head to WNBA, but will sit out 2022 season

New York Liberty Zoom
Former Oregon basketball player Nyara Sabally was selected as the No. 5 overall pick by the New York Liberty in the 2022 WNBA Draft.

Earlier this week, Oregon Women’s basketball’s Nyara Sabally was selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft. Sabally was the No. 5 overall pick, heading to the New York Liberty. She was the leading scorer and rebounder for the Ducks for the past two seasons. Last season, she shot 57.4% from the field, and averaged 15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals.

In a post-draft press conference with the Liberty on Friday, the team announced she will miss the 2022 season so she can focus on recuperating from earlier injuries. Sabally has suffered from multiple ACL tears in her right knee. In the 2021-22 season with the Ducks, she missed eight games because of injury.

Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb said “we knew heading into the selection for Nyara that there’s a very strong chance she will not play this year because of her current health condition.”

Sabally had more eligibility to play at Oregon, but after persevering through those multiple knee injuries in recent years, she decided to start her professional career early.

NCAA Photos
Nyara Sabally (1) competes in the 2021 NCAA Sweet 16 on March 28, 2021.

Sabally said she hopes to inspire young girls, especially to encourage them to fight through adversity. “At the end of the day if you stick with what you love and what you believe in, you’re gonna be great, so that's what I want to bring to the league. Just this sense of inspiration and hard grit, especially on the court obviously, but also off the court,” said Sabally.

Sabally is the 12th Oregon Duck to be selected in the WNBA Draft, including the fifth in the last four years. She joins Oregon great Sabrina Ionescu, who was selected by the Liberty as the number one pick in the 2020 draft.

That same year, Satou Sabally, Nyara’s sister, was the second overall pick by the Dallas Wings. The younger sister got advice from Satou after this week's draft, mainly the advice to “enjoy it and take it all in. I’m just super excited to have a sister that’s been through all of this before so she can kind of pave the way and help me through it. It’s definitely very helpful.”

As far as stepping on the court with Ionescu, Sabally said that she never got that chance while they were teammates at Oregon. She called Ionescu “an amazing person” and said “I can’t wait for her passes!”

Sabally also said it’s a dream to play with the caliber of players in the WNBA. “There are so many great players- players you’ve looked up to your whole life, learned from, watched their game. And it’s almost surreal. I feel like I won’t really feel what it feels like until I am on the court standing next to a Candace Parker.”

The Liberty open their season at home at the Barclays Center on May 7.

Copyright 2022, KLCC

Love Cross joined KLCC in 2017. She began her public radio career as a graduate student, serving as Morning Edition Host for Boise State Public Radio in the late 1990s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication from University of California at Davis, and her Master’s Degree from Boise State University. In addition to her work in public radio, Love teaches college-level courses in Communication and Public Speaking.