And One: Danielle Carson, the Sabrina Ionescu of her time

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 24: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the Oregon Ducks drives against Presley Hudson #3 of the Central Michigan Chippewas during the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 24, 2018 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 24: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the Oregon Ducks drives against Presley Hudson #3 of the Central Michigan Chippewas during the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 24, 2018 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images) /

Before Sabrina Ionescu, there was Danielle Carson of Youngstown State.

It’s no secret in college basketball that the best manufacturer of triple-doubles is Oregon junior guard Sabrina Ionescu. Through the Ducks’ first six games this season, she already has two more, bringing her career total to 12.

As a sophomore last year, she became the NCAA career leader in triple-doubles, passing Suzie McConnell-Serio and Louella Tomlinson, who each had seven triple-doubles during their college careers. It took over two decades for Tomlinson to tie McConnell-Serio’s record and 30 years for Ionescu to break it.

To get there, Ionescu tallied six triple-doubles during the 2017-18 season, tying a long-standing record set by the subject of today’s profile in the 1985-86 season, Youngstown State’s Danielle Carson.

Flash back to the early 1980s, the infancy of college women’s basketball as we know it. A standout high school basketball player in New Middletown, Carson was an All-Ohio AA honorable mention in 1980 and 1981 before earning second team honors in 1982. The 5-foot-8 Carson committed to play at Youngstown State, just a quick drive up the road.

The Penguins were similarly still a fresh program, early in their transition from Division II to Division I when Carson came in as a freshman. The program was also under the leadership of a new head coach, when their first and only head coach Joyce Ramsey stepped away from the team.

In the 1982-83, head coach Jeff Cohen led the Penguins to an 11-16 record  and a first-round loss in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. In their first season in the OVC, the Penguins only competed in the conference in the postseason. Freshman forward Carson immediately started her trend of filling the stat sheet, averaging 12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.5 steals in 32.2 minutes per game.

Cohen quickly vacated the coaching position, and Youngstown State brought in Ed DiGregorio to take over the team. Thus began the upward trajectory for the Penguins and Carson, now a sophomore.

They struggled in their first full season in the OVC, finishing just 3-11 in the conference, but Carson took a major leap by the numbers. Her scoring average jumped to 17.5 points, and she grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game playing five more minutes each game. Carson was a first team all-OVC selection that season.

By her senior year, the team had started the turn around, finishing 8-6 in the OVC before dropping their first game in the conference tournament.

They returned All-Freshman honoree Dorothy Bowers, who over her four years would become the program’s all-time leading scorer (2,324 points), and with that offensive threat running alongside her, Carson’s assist numbers skyrocketed while maintaining her scoring and rebounding.

It all started with a historic run just three games in to the season. In a win over the University of Akron, she had her first triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists. The following day, Kent State beat Youngstown State, but Carson had 20 points, 12 rebounds, and a (still) school record 16 assists. Just two days later, she had her third consecutive game with a triple-double with 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 14 assists.

That three-game run is still an NCAA record for consecutive games with a triple-double, and that wasn’t the end for Carson. In the second half of the season, she had three more triple-doubles, all with points, rebounds, and assists: at Austin Peay (24-13-10), against Middle Tennessee (14-11-10), and against Murray State (11-10-15).

With six in her senior year, Carson inked her name in the record books for both single-season and career triple-doubles. McConell-Serio quickly passed her career record with seven by the time she left Penn State in 1988, but no one has put up more in one year.

On top of that, during her senior season, Carson had eight games with 12 or more assists, including two 16-assist games just a few weeks apart. She averaged 9.6 assists per game over the year, and her 269 assists in that season is still a program record.

Averaging 16.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.7 assists over 36.2 minutes per game in her four years, Carson’s name is all over the Youngstown State record books.

Her 1,697 points and 16.0 point average is fifth best all-time for the Penguins, and her 573 assists was a program record until broken by Indiya Benjamin just last season. She finished with 629 in her four years.

Carson’s rebounding total (749) is ninth best in Youngstown State history entering the 2017-18 season. She is second all-time in steals with 288, third in total minutes (3,839), and second in minutes per game (36.2). She played in every Youngstown State game over her four years, totaling 106, starting 104 of them.

For her record-setting season, Carson was a first team all-OVC selection again in 1986, and she went on to be inducted into the Youngstown State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1997.

She and her teammates started a trend upward for Youngstown State, who under DiGregorio would go on to win five consecutive regular season conference championships and three conference tournament championships in the late 1990s.

Carson’s six career triple-doubles is still good for fourth-best all-time, tied with Nicole Powell (Stanford), Alyssa Thomas (Maryland), and Samantha Logic (Iowa). Thomas is perhaps the greatest comparison on that list, having continued to fill the stat sheet in the WNBA from the forward position primarily.

It’s easy for players to drop out of the conversation if they don’t dominate a single statistic in a record-setting way, but that’s where Carson’s story is special. Her effectiveness across multiple levels, particularly as a scorer, rebounder, and passer, put her name next to a mark that will continue to be a part of Ionescu’s storyline this season, and perhaps for seasons beyond.