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2022 WNBA Draft: Nyara Sabally is adversity-tested

After a successful career at Oregon, Nyara Sabally was drafted by the New York Liberty. Unfortunately knee issues mean we’ll have to wait a year to see her WNBA debut.

WNBA Draft 2022 Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images

Nyara Sabally was taken fifth overall in this year’s WNBA draft. She will be joining her former Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu in New York, playing for the Liberty. At least that's the plan for 2023. Sabally has already been ruled out for the 2022 season due to her knee issues.

Sabally has a world of potential. She’s the kind of big that can raise a team’s ceiling with her post-up moves, rim protection and rebounding ability. Her list of accolades at Oregon is long. She was All Pac-12 in back-to-back seasons and finished sixth in the conference in scoring (15.4 points per game) and third in rebounding with 7.8 boards per game. This year Oregon was disappointing in the tournament, losing in the first round to Belmont, but the impact Sabally made on the team was undeniable. She will be missed in Oregon, and there is a reason she was drafted fifth overall, even with injury concerns.

As a player, Sabally is good. As a person, she is special. When declaring for the WNBA draft, she wrote a heartwarming piece on what being at Oregon meant to her. “ Oregon will have a place in my heart forever. Getting to graduate from this amazing university, with the support of everyone in this program, is something I’ll always be proud of and grateful for.”

The dedication and love she has for Oregon has to be something that excites Liberty fans. Pairing her with Sabrina has to be an exciting proposition, even if we’ll have to wait a whole year to see it.

If you hear the name Sabally and get a sense of deja vu, that’s likely because Sabally is a name most WNBA fans were already aware of. Satou Sabally, Nyara’s sister, plays for the Dallas Wings and also played for the Oregon Ducks. Satou was drafted second in 2020. They are the first pair of sisters to be drafted in the top five since Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. If the Sabally sisters can be as successful as the Ogwumikes, then New York just had a very successful draft.

Injuries can be scary and setbacks can be frustrating, but this isn’t the first time N. Sabally has dealt with knee issues. Every time she’s had a problem or work done on her knee, she’s been able to return just as effective and skilled as ever. While expectations need to be tempered, optimism should be the default for most Liberty fans. This time off should help get N. Sabally to 100 percent and ready to start her rookie campaign in 2023 in excellent health.