Ogwumike sisters Nneka and Chinyere have taken US basketball by storm – and broken records and barriers in equal measure.
They are the first sisters to be number one picks for their respective teams at the 2014 WBNA Draft. They are the first sisters to play in a WNBA All-Star game. And between them they have amassed an almost bewildering array of titles, awards and accolades.
Yet for Nneka and Chinyere Ogwumike, basketball may be what they do (and excel at) but it isn’t who they are. The Ogwumikes are from Cypress, Texas, but their heritage is Nigerian (Imo State). They spent a great deal of time in Nigeria as children. Their father works here. And in 2013 Chinyere spent 8 weeks studying in the country. She also found time to help raise $30,000 to help build a basketball court for the community.
Philanthropy is part of the Ogwumike makeup. Both girls are working with UNICEF on youth empowerment and education programmes, and they are keenly aware of the unique position they hold.
“We are extremely lucky that we get to be paid to do something we love like playing basketball,” Nneka told the Houston Chronicle. “But we know there is a lot more out there. This isn’t forever. It is a good platform for us, and one we can use to bring awareness.”
Yet for all their fundraising and awareness work, it is perhaps their exploits on the basketball court and in the academic world of Stamford University that serve as the greatest inspiration to Nigerian and US children.
Side by Side
Points average: 14.6
The two-time Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star was 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year, 1st overall pick for the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2012 WNBA Draft and a former Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Nneka has played basketball worldwide, in 2012-13 leading Polish team CCC Polkowice to the Polish League championship, the Polish Cup and the final eight of the women’s Euro league. She also played for the Guangdong Dolphins in China.
During her time at Stanford University, she helped the team reach four consecutive Final Four appearances.
Three-time Wade Trophy winner. John R Wooden Award finalist.
Gold medal winner with the USA Basketball World University Games team in 2011.
Points average: 26.1
Chinyere was first overall pick for Connecticut Sun in the 2014 WNBA Draft. She is a three-time First Team All-American, two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, four-time All-Pac 12 First Team, and finalist for multiple national Player of the Year awards each of the last three seasons.
During her time at Stanford University, she helped the team reach three Final Four appearances.
Recipient of the John R Wooden Award.
Awarded a gold medal with USA Basketball at the FIBA 3×3 World Championships in August 2012, and with the USA Basketball World University Games team in 2011.
Named the 2014 Capital One Academic All-American of the Year and the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Sep 28, 2014 0