On March 13th, the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament was canceled by the NCAA because of concerns regarding the spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). That decision resulted in #MarchSadness across the United States. It’s the first time the annual NCAA Tournament will not be held since it was first launched 81 years ago, in 1939.
This news devastated the sports community, but even more so, the players across the nation who put in countless hours of practice and work to move their teams toward greatness and had their eye on Championship play.
While the Coronavirus pandemic has given us a story this season that can never be finished, at Sport Fuels Life, we want to celebrate a few players who were in their senior year at their schools, and (even though they won’t grasp a championship this season) will move forward to continue the pursuit of greatness their basketball careers.
- Udoka Azubuike
Udoka played center for Kansas, and was just named first-team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
247Sports noted that “Azubuike became the consensus Big 12 player of the year, a national player of the year candidate and a potential first-round draft pick, too. He’s the NCAA’s all-time field goal percentage leader at 74.6 percent. He’ll likely have his jersey retired with his KU career now in the rearview mirror.
We love Udoka Azubuike because he has overcome so much adversity and injury. He always pushes himself to improve and his dedication to the game is something to celebrate.
His Instagram post after learning of the NCAA’s decision to cancel the tournament is a testament to his optimism and belief in his team:
“Lord knows I’ll miss putting on that uniform and representing this great university. So sad it ended the way it did. We were so close in accomplishing something special this season, but God knows best. Thank you all for a remarkable SZN”
We know this isn’t the end for Udoka. He’s likely to go pretty high in the NBA Draft this summer!
2. Sabrina Ionescu
Sabrina really inspired the nation just last month when she became the first player in college history to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.
She’s best known as the Triple-Double Queen. ESPN said “Sabrina Ionescu is the front-runner for national player of the year and the projected No. 1 pick in April’s WNBA draft. She is also a triple-double machine, and she just keeps adding to her NCAA career record for men and women. Her total sits at 26.”
The Oregon Ducks’ star guard was recently and unanimously named the AP Women’s Basketball Player of the Year. While she did not get to take her team to complete their season and nab the big W, she had this to say via her Instagram: “This year has been the toughest year of my life, and I wasn’t expecting to have to end my senior year like this. Very saddened but whole heartedly understand. To my teammates, coaches, fans, and the University of Oregon, thank you for providing me with the best 4 years of my life. Although our unfinished business will remain just that, I have been blessed to be a part of this journey. Thank you for all the memories, that I will forever hold close to my heart. DUCK NATION, THANK YOU!! 20, out”
We’re fans of Sabrina because she’s got confidence and skill, and because of what she represents for so many young girls in the sport who look up to her. We look forward to seeing even more greatness from Sabrina as she turns the page in a new chapter of her career.
3. Myles Powell
Seton Hall senior Myles Powell is only the fourth Pirate to ever be declared an NCAA consensus All-American and only the third to be named first-team. He was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press, Sporting News and USBWA
Powell was also recently named the Big East player of the year, just days before the remainder of the season was cancelled, where he noted that “to have the respect of the other nine coaches, it means a lot.”
In an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, just weeks before the NCAA cancelled the tournament, when Van Pelt asked Powell what his hopes were for his senior year Myles said that he hoped to win the national championship, get back to Big East championship, win player of the year in the Big East and to win National Player of the Year.
While some of these hopes just were not possible due to the coronavirus outbreak and the protective measures the NCAA took by cancelling the tournament, Powell was named the Big East player of the year, just days before the remainder of the season was cancelled. Upon receiving this honor, he said “to have the respect of the other nine coaches, it means a lot.”
We admire Myles Powell because even though last season he was getting attention from the NBA and could have gone to draft in 2019, he chose to stay with his team and finish out his time at Seton Hall. It sets a great example for younger generations of athletes, and we know he will be an exciting player to watch in this year’s draft.
While these are just a few of the amazing athletes from the 2019-2020 NCAA basketball season, we know there are many more of you who did not get to complete your season due to COVID-19 concerns. We want to give you an opportunity to honor your exceptional coaches and teammates. Nominate someone who has inspired you on the court for a chance to honor them by featuring their story right here on our Sport Fuels Life blog! Click here to learn more!