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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

If — when — she's taken with the No. 1 pick in tonight's WNBA draft, Sabrina Ionescu will become the face of a rebuilding project in America's biggest market, a role she's uniquely suited to play.

The player: Ionescu finished her Oregon career with 26 triple-doubles, more than twice as many as anyone else, male or female. She's the only player in NCAA history to accumulate 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds.

  • The team: The New York Liberty are expected to take Ionescu first overall, and after trading away All-Star Tina Charles on Wednesday, they own five of the top 15 picks in the draft. The roster is primed for a rebuild and Sabrina will be handed the keys.
  • The venue: Nets owner Joe Tsai bought the Liberty from James Dolan in 2019, and is moving the team — which just got a fresh rebrand — from a small arena in White Plains, New York, to Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

The big picture: Ionescu redefined women's college basketball and will enter the WNBA with as large a profile as any player in recent memory.

  • The Ionescu-led Ducks outdrew Oregon's nationally-ranked men's team in home attendance, and her achievements were frequently amplified by NBA admirers like Steph Curry and Kobe Bryant, who she grew close with before he died.
  • Tonight, with the WNBA draft airing on ESPN's main network for the fist time, Ionescu will be the star of the show — and it's hard to imagine a better landing spot. The stage is set.
"I'm definitely, hopefully excited for the opportunity to play there at Barclays Center, and just the marketability that there is in New York. ... [T]he hustle and bustle is something that I think could be not only beneficial to myself as a person but as a brand and for women's basketball."
— Sabrina Ionescu, via WSJ
Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

What to watch: The draft will be held virtually, and ESPN has sent players lighting kits and tripods so they can be interviewed following their selections.

Top 10 prospects:

  1. Sabrina Ionescu, PG, Oregon
  2. Satou Sabally, SF, Oregon
  3. Lauren Cox, PF, Baylor
  4. Chennedy Carter, SG, Texas A&M
  5. Bella Alarie, SF, Princeton
  6. Tyasha Harris, PG, South Carolina
  7. Megan Walker, SF, UConn
  8. Ruthy Hebard, PF, Oregon
  9. Crystal Dangerfield, PG, UConn
  10. Beatrice Mompremier, PF, Miami

Go deeper: Coronavirus causes delay in WNBA season and training camps

Go deeper

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Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

9 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.