October 28, 2022 

Prince’s legacy goes far beyond the court

Oregon women’s basketball program announced Friday morning that Prince’s college career is over

Sedona Prince’s impact on women’s basketball will be felt for a very long time. Her impact on the Oregon Ducks women’s basketball program, however, won’t ever be quite what either Prince or the Ducks hoped it would be.

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The Oregon women’s basketball program announced Friday morning that Prince’s college career is over after an elbow-ligament injury that will require surgery. Prince, according to the information released by Oregon, will “exhaust her remaining eligibility to focus on recovery before pursuing a professional career.”

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The abrupt end of Prince’s collegiate career is the coda on a four-year span defined both by her unrealized potential on the floor due to injuries, and her willingness to be outspoken at the 2021 NCAA Tournament regarding the inequities experienced by the women competing compared to the men’s tournament.

Prince’s video of the sparse weight-room facilities in San Antonio, her voice of frustration and outrage set in motion a national conversation and a re-evaluation by the NCAA of the way it treats men’s athletics versus women’s athletics. It opened a long overdue conversation about the ways in which the NCAA has undervalued women’s basketball, a conversation that looks to be heading into a positive place for the women’s game.

Additionally, she was a party in a federal lawsuit against the NCAA that led to the seismic NIL (name, image and likeness) rights that college athletes across the country now enjoy.

Oregon head coach Kelly Graves paid tribute to Prince in a statement on Friday:

“We are going to miss Sedona. She has done so many wonderful things and has been an incredible representative of our program and the University. Her impact on collegiate athletics, especially in the area of gender equity, has been immense and will be felt for generations to come. I wish her only the best in all of her future endeavors. I cannot wait to see the ways she will continue to positively impact and change our world. Once a Duck, always a Duck.”

Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves

Prince’s stature as a player hasn’t quite matched up with her status as an influencer. In her three years at UO, Prince appeared in 50 games with 28 starts and shot 54.3% from the field and 76.6% from the free throw line. She averaged 9.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Last season, the 6’7 Prince played alongside Nyara Sabally and showed what kind of impact player she could be, ranking fourth in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage. She finished with 11.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over three games in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments and scored in double figures 16 times. Prince, who chose to return to Oregon for a fifth season, was a preseason All-Pac-12 selection.

On media day on Tuesday, Graves talked about what his team needed from Prince this season.

“She’s one of the most gifted athletes, especially with her size, the unbelievable gifts she has, her talents, her skills. Really has a head for the game. She’s a difference-maker. She truly is,” Graves said at media day on Tuesday. “We have yet to see her best, I think, just simply because of some injury issues and things like that. She’s always played alongside a high-level pro as well. So now it’s kind of her time to shine.”

Now that won’t happen. Prince said in a statement that she is “heartbroken.”

“I truly felt that this was the year I could showcase my work ethic and skills on the court, but also my self-growth and leadership ability. I tried to push through the injury and be there for my team, but after extensive evaluation from the best doctors in the world and looking deep inside myself at my passions and goals, I know that I have to take care of my elbow now in order to ensure long-term health and a sustained professional career.”

Prince, who graduated from Oregon with her degree in May, will be an intriguing pro prospect because of her size. Her injury history may keep her from being the game-changing post prospect she was when she entered the college game.

But Sedona has literally changed the game in many other ways, and that is a pretty good legacy, no matter what happened on the court.

Written by Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has covered women's basketball nationally for nearly three decades. Smith has worked for ESPN.com, The Athletic, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as Pac-12.com and WNBA.com. She was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, is the 2017 recipient of the Jake Wade Media Award from the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA) and was named the Mel Greenberg Media Award winner by the WBCA in 2019.

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