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Maria Taylor’s Six-Month Journey with Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu Gets Much Different Cover Story Ending than Expected

Reporting took an unexpected turn after the COVID-19 outbreak, but Taylor made adjustments to her profile of one of college basketball's greats

Earlier this week, the ESPN Cover Story on Oregon Ducks point guard Sabrina Ionescu debuted across the network’s digital and social platforms.

College basketball analyst and reporter Maria Taylor explains her storytelling approach to profiling Ionescu.

Basketball has had to adapt and evolve due to cancellations. Were there any aspects of the story that you had to adjust as a result?
We started working on this story in the summer [of 2019] with interviews with Sabrina’s parents, teammates, coaches, etc. When the news came down that she would not be able to play in her last NCAA tournament, it was devastating. We adjusted the written portion of the Cover Story to account for her not being able to complete her unfinished business.

“College Basketball’s Greatest of All-Time” airs tonight

ESPN is set to launch a “Greatest College Basketball Players of All Time bracket” during a SportsCenter Special (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Will Sabrina Ionescu be one of them?

Why was it important for you to tell Ionescu story?
The best part of my job is being able to tell stories. I especially love being able to tell stories about strong and inspiring women in sport. Sabrina is one of the greats. She is the perfect story of someone who has a relentless pursuit for perfection. She has known since she was 12 years old that she wanted to be great at basketball and she has dedicated her life to making that dream come true.

What was most significant to you about the project?
I think being given the resources, time, energy and opportunity to tell an in depth story about a collegiate women’s basketball player is groundbreaking in many ways, but so is Sabrina. From her upbringing as the daughter to immigrant parents, to her incredible bond with her twin brother, to her unparalleled success on the court. I haven’t heard a story quite like hers. I am just honored to play a small role in sharing the story of this once-in-a-generation athlete.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN Cover Story is the sports fan’s monthly ticket to the biggest stories on the most captivating athletes – told with inside access, bold reporting and unforgettable visuals.

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