At the professional level, she’s offered tantalizing glimpses of the skill that made her an amateur legend and despite a year-long injury battle, it’s probably a good idea not to sleep on Sabrina Ionescu rookie cards.
As the trading card market continues to draw more widespread interest, women’s sports cards are gaining a newfound respect and the 2020s could be a big one for basketball. While the number of trading card products pales in comparison to what Panini offers NBA collectors, that means there aren’t a lot of gray areas for Ionescu basketball cards. In fact, the 2020 Prizm WNBA issue is the lone place where you’ll find fully licensed Sabrina Ionescu rookie cards. Boxes have soared in value since their release in the fall of that year.
The Sabrina Story
Sabrina Ionescu is one of those rare basketball players where the talent and performance matches, or even surpasses the hype. A phenomenal high-school player, she was named the national player of the year by USA Today. She was also named the McDonald’s All-America game MVP and California’s Gatorade state player of the year as a senior. She chose to play her college basketball at University of Oregon.
While at Oregon, Ionescu won countless awards and set numerous records. She was the Pac 12 Freshman of the Year when she recorded four triple-doubles and seven double-doubles. During her sophomore year, the Ducks won their third regular-season title and Ionescu was named a first-team All-American by ESPN. She was also a finalist for the Naismith Award. In her junior year she broke both the men’s and women’s record by recording her 13th triple-double and capped off the year by winning the John R. Wooden Award as the nation’s top collegiate basketball player. She ended her senior year at Oregon with over 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. She was the first NCAA player, male or female, to accomplish those numbers.
Beyond the statistics, Ionescu became a focal point of the women’s game. The California native was mentored by Kobe Bryant and Ionescu, in turn, became a guiding light for Bryant’s talented daughter Gigi. Their death in January 2020 was especially difficult for the young California native to bear, but she honored them at the memorial service and has remained close with the Bryant family.
Drafted by the New York Liberty of the WNBA in May of 2020, Ionescu quickly announced to the league that was going to be a force to be reckoned with on a nightly basis. In her second game, she scored 33 points, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 7 rebounds. Unfortunately, two nights later, she suffered a severe ankle injury so the team made the decision to shut her down the rest of the season so she could fully heal.
Sabrina Ionescu Rookie Cards
Based on her past performances as a college and pro-player, it is more than understandable why Sabrina Ionescu trading cards are so popular. Ionescu first appeared in the Panini Prizm WNBA set issued late in the fall of 2020 and despite ongoing issues with her ankle, her cards have remained strong sellers.
Her base rookie card is #89 in the set, but also comes with numerous serial-numbered parallels. There are autograph cards and corresponding parallels as well, with the lowest serial numbered versions bringing $3,000 and up in high grade.
Panini also issued a special Premium Boxed Set that included all 100 cards from the regular Prizm set printed on a different type of stock and one randomly inserted autograph card numbered to 10. There were only 99 sets issued and prices of boxes and the Ionescu single reflect that.
If you want to collect something different, she also had a card on the perforated trading card sheet that was an insert in a 2020 issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids. Those are generally inexpensive.
You can see the most watched Sabrina Ionescu rookie card auctions on eBay below and check out all of her cards being offered here.
About Rich Mueller
Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for over 35 years and a collector for even longer than that, he’s usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected]