Her video has led to much publicity — including appearing on CNN multiple times. The attention, Prince admitted Wednesday, made her “extremely nervous” heading into Oregon’s first-round game against South Dakota a couple of days ago.
But not only has Prince sparked a dialogue — the NCAA apologized the day after her video was posted — but the 6-foot-7-inch forward has backed up her words with her game.
Prince scored 12 points in the Ducks’ first-round win against South Dakota. Wednesday, led by Prince’s 22 points, No. 6 seed Oregon upset No. 3 seed Georgia in the second round to have the Ducks reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive time, winning 57-50 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Oregon next will face No. 2 seed Louisville on Sunday.
“It makes me want to cry, because I watched since the fourth grade when I started playing basketball of people celebrating these kind of moments in March, how amazing it is to see,” said Prince, a redshirt sophomore from Liberty Hill, northwest of Austin.
“This year is a little bit different because of Covid, and it’s been a struggle all year. No fans. My parents haven’t really been able to see me play. They are in the stands today. Playing in my home state and in a gym that I played in in high school is so amazing. Now being able to go to the Sweet 16 and experience even more of this is going to be amazing.”
There has been much focus on Prince since her viral post, and she has risen to the challenge and is ready for more people to watch the women’s NCAA tournament for the first time.
“I just wanted to show them today — and my team — we wanted to show that we’re fun to watch,” Prince said.
Said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves: “How blessed am I to be coaching a young woman like her? She is really the whole package. Not only a tremendous player. But just think of the pressure she’s had on her being so outspoken. She’s had a lot of attention placed on her, and she has backed it up. And that’s not easy to do. I’m really proud of her and really happy for her and the rest of the team.”
Prince, who sat out her freshman year when she was at the University of Texas after suffering a broken right leg, transferred to Oregon for the 2019-2020 season. She spent that season rehabbing her leg, while her teammate Nyara Sabally — also a redshirt sophomore — was recovering from knee surgery.
Heading into the fourth quarter against Georgia, with the Ducks up 40-33, Prince said she and Sabally resolved they would reach the Sweet 16. In the win, Prince and Sabally combined for 37 points, with the duo scoring 14 of Oregon’s 17 fourth-quarter points.
“When I came here, we were both so broken,” Prince said, getting emotional while talking to reporters. “We didn’t know if we were going to play basketball again. … Watching where we’ve come and now leading this team to the Sweet 16 is incredible. And it feels so good.”
Prince helped extend Oregon’s season to at least one more game — and she has created more awareness about the inequities that have persisted in college basketball.
“We deserve just as much credit as the men do,” Prince said. “Through all this stuff, I’ve learned a lot. But it’s that people love women’s basketball. People will support us if we use our platform, if we talk about it. That’s amazing. I didn’t know that. That’s so cool. I love that and I hope that more big organizations give us the credit we deserve.”
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