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Liberty rookie Sabrina Ionescu’s AP diary: Playing again

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BRADETON, Fla. (AP) — I’m so glad the wait is finally over.

I hadn’t been able to play basketball since March when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and now being in Florida with the New York Liberty at my first training camp has been great.

You never know how much you miss something until you can’t do it anymore, and to be back on the court playing 5-on-5 with my teammates has been wonderful.

I felt at home when I walked into the hotel in Florida and saw the WNBA posters and signs. It was at that moment when I was like: ‘Wow. I’m actually in the best professional league in the world.’

It was great to finally meet my teammates and coaches after seeing them on Zoom the last few months. We all had to wait four days because of quarantining when we got here, but being around each other has been so much fun.

Layshia (Clarendon) and I bike to practice from the hotel each day.

Bubble life hasn’t been too bad. It helps that Ruthy (Hebard) is in the hotel with me, so I see her around the pool or we have dinner together. We also practice at the same time so we put our waters so we can see each other.

I saw Satou (Sabally) for the first time the other day at the gym. She ran on the court and gave me a hug and then ran back out. It’s great that so many of my former teammates are playing in the pros.

I spent the last three months training and grinding away at home in the Bay Area or in Oregon before I got to Florida to get ready for this. I also had the incredible honor of being the commencement speaker at the Oregon graduation — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It was so special when students messaged me or came up to me after saying how touched they were by what I said.

Even while I was working and training hard, there was still a little time for fun at home and I’ve become obsessed with TikTok. I definitely watch more of the videos than I do them.

Before heading to Florida I had to say goodbye to my family. It was sort of like the start of my freshman year when I came to college when I knew I wouldn’t see my family for awhile. The only difference then was that they could drive down any weekend they wanted to, but now I won’t be able to see them for a few months.

We have long distance talks now and I know they are counting down the days till I get back home when they can be around me again.

I know games start next weekend and I’m really excited to go out and play and see what we have. I miss having those pregame jitters and getting nervous and excited when we play against another team.

I know they’ll be down days and games we’re not going to win, but there’s going to be a lot of room for growth and I’m excited to be part of that.

___

New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu is checking in periodically from the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy.

By SABRINA IONESCU
For The Associated Press

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