Erica Ogwumike is more than the little sister of Los Angeles Sparks stars Nneka and Chiney.
As of Friday, April 17, Ogwumike, a 5’9” guard from Rice University, is the Minnesota Lynx’s newest draft acquisition and is about to embark on her own WNBA career.
Ogwumike played and started in all 90 games of her three-year career with the Owls and averaged 32.3 minutes, 19.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a senior. She leaves Rice University, the school she attended after transferring from Pepperdine, as the program’s leader in career scoring average (17.7 ppg) and recorded a second-best career rebounding average of 10.1 rpg.
The Lynx traded Stephanie Talbot to the New York Liberty for Ogwumike’s rights during the third round of Friday’s draft. It was the night’s first in-draft trade, but the move may have been anticipated by those who heard Minnesota’s head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve speak highly of Ogwumike during Monday’s national pre-draft conference call.
“I’m pretty sure she’s a player you’d love to have around, and I hope she gets an opportunity,” Reeve said on Tuesday.
What qualities have impressed Reeve and have led Ogwumike to the WNBA?
As a guard, Erica’s game differs from her sisters who both serve as frontcourt players for the Sparks.
But she possesses the same Ogwumike athleticism that has allowed her sisters to dominate amongst the strongest players in the game.
“She’s got a good, strong build, obviously the Ogwumike athleticism,” Reeve said on Tuesday.
Her strength led to her double-double average of 19.0 points and 10.3 rebounds as a guard her senior season. She only shot 46.5% from the field and 29.7% from beyond the arc in college, so it goes without saying that those numbers won’t be transferable to the WNBA, but adding a multifaceted guard into the Lynx’s mix can’t hurt.
More Than Just A Basketball Star
Ogwumike wasn’t just racking up double-doubles while attending Rice University. She was also mapping out a backup plan of attending medical school if her WNBA dreams didn’t pan out.
How many people choose medical school as a backup plan?
But this wasn’t some spur-of-the-moment plan Ogwumike came up with on the fly. She’s been a star student while leading the Owls on the court and was accepted to nine medical schools this past winter, per The Undefeated.
I don’t know if that speaks more to how disciplined she is or the level of intelligence she could bring to a team.
But her athleticism and smarts aren’t even her most redeeming qualities, according to Reeve.
Instead, Reeve believes Ogwuike’s reputable character will leave the most impressionable mark on the league.
“I think probably the greatest quality for (Erica) is that, much like Nneka and Chiney, the way they go about their business, they’re great people, they’re committed, they’re well-rounded,” Reeve said. “Erica would be following in line with the traditions that her sisters have established.”
Erica’s sisters have paved a path for her, but now it’s her time to make her mark on the WNBA.