Oregon women’s basketball star Sabrina Ionescu and Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee shared the Sullivan Award on Wednesday night as the country’s top amateur athlete.
They are the third co-winners in the 90-year history of the Amateur Athletic Union award, following Coco Miller and Kelly Miller in 1999 and Keenan Reynolds and Breanna Stewart in 2005.
The ceremony was done remotely and streamed on Facebook. The scheduled program at the New York Athletic Club was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ionescu, from Walnut Creek, California, swept every major women’s basketball award, including being a unanimous choice as the AP player of the year. She had an NCAA-record 26 career triple-doubles and was the first NCAA player — men’s or women’s — to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.
She was drafted first overall by the WNBA’s New York Liberty this month after guiding Oregon to a 31-2 mark in the season that ended prematurely with the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament.
“This is truly an honor,” Ionescu said. “I’m blessed to be in this position and blessed to be among such great athletes and people, and to follow in the footsteps of the past AAU Sullivan Award winners.
“I just want to say thank you to the University of Oregon and anyone that has been a part of my journey in the past and now in the future. Congrats to everyone that was up for this award. It’s really inspirational to be in a pool with these athletes.”
Lee, from Murrysville, Pennsylvania, was 18-0 for the Hawkeyes this year as a junior before the season was stopped. The 125-pounder won NCAA titles his first two seasons.
“I am incredibly humbled,” Lee said. “It was an honor to be nominated and reach the finals, so to be selected among this incredible group of individuals is pretty special. … It is really special to be able to represent the University of Iowa. I am happy to share this award with Sabrina. All of the finalists are deserving. I am very surprised and very thankful.”
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence also was a finalist with UCLA gymnast Kyla Ross, California swimmer Abbey Weitzeil, Florida hurdler Grant Holloway, Marquette basketball player Markus Howard, Wisconsin volleyball player Dana Rettke, Maryland lacrosse player Megan Taylor and rhythmic gymnast Evita Griskenas.
“We want to thank everyone for their participation and dedication to the presentation of this award. These are unprecedented times, but we as an organization wanted to celebrate the hard work these athletes put out there on the floor throughout this 2019-20 season,” AAU President and CEO Dr. Roger J. Goudy said. “I could not be more proud of both our recipients this year. They are quintessence of what this award represents – character, leadership and citizenship.”