NCAA Takeaways: Week One

NCAA Takeaways: Week One

Sabrina Ionescu in the post game line greeting Sue Bird and Skylar Diggins-Smith. *Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics.

As we put the first week of the college season to bed, here are five things I took away from the action:


1: Sabrina Ionescu is the (new) face of college basketball.

She’s been all over magazine covers, social media and interviews this offseason. It’s been hard to miss Ionescu’s ascent into the rarefied air of college basketball star. Ionescu has been so noticeable that Oregon did not play a regular season game this week but she is still the lead. Posting 30 points, seven assists and a single turnover as a college senior against the USA team tends to garner that type of attention. In the process, Ionescu had the entire ear of the women’s basketball world the past 48 hours. She is the Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year and my odds-on favorite to win the Naismith Trophy too.


2: Florida needed to start fast. They did.

Looking at the Gators schedule to open up the year, it was important that they come out of the opening week unscathed. After winning on the road at Grambling, the Gators followed up with a nice win over Longwood at home. They’ll need to snag home wins over Samford and Presbyterian next week to complete the job of being undefeated when Indiana comes to town in two weeks. Freshman Guards Lavender Briggs and Brylee Bartram will have to learn on the job and quickly. 


3: Elissa Cunane is First-Team All-ACC material.

North Carolina State is aiming to be the premier team in the Tarheel State but in the league as well. A major key to their success will be the play of the talented sophomore Cunane. She’s shown the ability to be a nightly double-double candidate statistically with the range to shoot the 3-pointer as well. Against UNCW, Cunane dropped 18 points and snagged nine rebounds in just 20 minutes of action. She was on my Preseason Naismith Trophy 50 Watch List for a reason.


4. Keep an eye on Southern California. 

USC recorded two victories this week including a home win Virginia over and in the process caught my attention. Redshirt senior Stephanie Watts transferred before the season from UNC and showed her familiarity with the Cavs giving them fits by dropping 14 points, collecting 12 rebounds while swatting five UVA shots on the defensive end. If Watts can stay healthy, Mark Trakh’s squad has a chance to be a tough matchup nightly out West.


5. Illinois keeps getting better.

Much like her football counterpart, Lovie Smith, Illini coach Nancy Fahey appears to have the program headed in the right direction. Their 2-0 start to the season only enhances that outlook. Relying on Senior Forward Ali Andrews, the Fighting Illini averaged 87 in those wins. Andrews averaged 15 points per contest. Fahey’s squad will be favored in all five of their remaining November matchups before traveling to North Carolina to start the month.


Brandon Clay serves as the WNBA Director of Scouting for and owns The International Report, which is picked up by more than 150 colleges and universities nationwide. He serves as the Executive Camp Director for the Elite Basketball Academy Camps. He serves on the Naismith Trophy Men’s / Women’s College Player of the Year Academy and is chairman of the HS Boys / Girls Board of Selectors and is on the McDonald’s All-American Selection Committee. He also is the publisher of

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