Liberty rookie Sabrina Ionescu has Grade 3 left ankle sprain

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu pushes the ball up the court against the Seattle Storm on July 25 in Bradenton, Fla.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

New York Liberty rookie Sabrina Ionescu has a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, according to the team.

Ionescu, the top overall pick in the draft, injured her ankle in the second quarter against Atlanta and did not return to action in the Liberty’s 84-78 loss to the Dream on Friday night.

X-rays taken at a hospital came back negative, but an MRI revealed the sprain. A Grade 3 sprain is the most severe and usually requires months to heal fully as it’s a full tear of the ankle ligament. This level of sprain causes severe pain, swelling and bruising.


A group of doctors has been attending to the injury. The doctors are trying to get the swelling to decrease as well as increase her range of motion, according to the Liberty.

Ionescu was bringing the ball up court and rolled her left ankle when she got tangled up with Atlanta’s Betnijah Laney with about five minutes left in the opening half. She finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

New York is short-handed at guard already with Kia Nurse sidelined with a sprained left ankle she suffered in the team’s opener. Asia Durr, the No. 2 pick last year, is out for the season on a medical exemption after contracting the coronavirus.

“We’re gonna have to huddle up and talk about it,” Liberty coach Walt Hopkins said after the loss. “There’s not a lot of ready-to-go options hanging around. See if we can get Kia right.“

Ionescu had been pretty durable in college for Oregon, missing only four games her freshman season. She played every game after that en route to shattering the NCAA career triple-double mark (for men and women) with 26 and became the first player in college history to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

The WNBA had set up a “clean corridor,” according to league commissioner Cathy Engelbert. That way players who needed an X-ray or an MRI could go to a hospital to receive care without having to go back into quarantine when they returned to IMG Academy.

The Liberty are 0-3 on the season and will play again Sunday against Phoenix.