By Eric Berniker
In a season ending loss to Belmont in round one of the NCAA Tournament last Saturday, Nyara Sabally, the younger sister of already well-known German-Gambian basketball star Satou, played arguably the best game of her career, scoring 31 points paired with 12 rebounds and seven blocks.
The game could serve as a strong closing to an otherwise frustrating career at Oregon riddled with injuries. Although Sabally is a senior, she is yet to declare for the WNBA draft, where she has been projected as high as the fourth pick in the draft by Bleacher Report. She retains an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” Sabally said prior to Saturday’s game. “I’m really just focused on ending the season… The decision will be made after the games are played.”
In limited availability this season as she battled lingering leg injuries, Sabally averaged 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds nightly in an All-Pac-12 campaign.
In last Saturday’s loss, she shot 50% from the floor, taking 24 of Oregon’s 74 shorts on the evening, most of which came despite commanding a double team. Showcasing her ability to completely take games over to WNBA scouts and potential collegiate competition, she worked from the high to low post and through traffic with physicality, getting to her signature short hook shot.
“It was a good game,” Sabally said. “It looks good on paper… I know it’s probably good for my stats.”
Retention of Sabally would be monumental for Kelly Graves’ Ducks. Center Sedona Prince has already committed to returning for the 2022-23 season. Reuniting her with Sabally would potentially keep Oregon’s entire starting lineup from this season intact.
“Nyara and I have a really close bond,” Prince said. “We have been through a lot together.”
The Ducks have a young core including All-Conference guards Te-Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogers, who pair with Sabally to form Graves’ “Big Three.” The trio averages 43.3 points per game this season, good for over 60% of the team’s scoring production.
“We’ve got to either just get in the gym and be better for what we have, or go get some others,” Graves said. “I think what we have is enough.”