PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) —  Mental toughness has always been a trademark for the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA draft Sabrina Ionescu.

However, even the toughest get tested, and that’s exactly what Ionescu experienced when she had to rehab her high ankle sprain, an injury that stole her highly anticipated rookie season.

“You kind of get in your head it’s a lot of what’s going to work, what’s not, how you’re going to adjust to you know sitting out for 10 months and not getting to play the game,” she told KOIN 6 News.

Ionescu learned to never take the game of basketball for granted, and now she’s on a mission to return to the game better than she was before. 

“This injury gave me at least a new appreciation for what I love doing, being very grateful, being where my feet are and living in the moment and just appreciating it but I know I am going to come back better than I was before.”

Heading into her sophomore season, Ionescu is ready for new challenges and a season that will feel nothing like her first. 

“I think just being able to be in Barclays Center, practicing here, being able to have everyone around that is allowed to be around is really exciting,” Ionescu said. “It definitely feels more like a real WNBA season and it’s awesome to just be here with my teammates and just be able to interact with them outside the bubble.”

As Ionescu continues her WNBA career, she knows one of the most important things she will need to prioritize is her health, because everything else on the court will take care of itself.

“On the court it’s just doing what I’ve been doing my entire career,” Ionescu said. “It’s just having fun doing what I love and helping those around me doing whatever they need to do and finding ways to win.”