Normally this time of the year the sports fans in the greater Houston area are firmly entrenched in football. High school football, college football, NFL football, heck even peewee football for that matter – is the only thing on our mind. To that end we want to deviate from the norm to highlight a local star who’s making us proud. Former Cy-Fair All-American was recently named WNBA MVP.
For many of you who were so mad when we lost our beloved Houston Comets that you swore off the league all together, yes they are still in business and doing quite well thanks to young dominant performers like Ms. Ogwumike. In case you don’t recall Nneka was a high school state champion and Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year, an All American at Stanford and the #1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Spark in the 2012 WNBA draft. She was the 2012 Rookie of the Year and is a three-time All WNBA performer.
A 6-foot-2 power forward, Ogwumike shot a WNBA-best 66.5 percent from the field this season, the second-highest mark of all time, and set league records for consecutive field goals made (23) and most field goals in a game without a miss (12, against the Dallas Wings on June 11). She also ranked third in the league in scoring (career-high 19.7 ppg) and rebounding (career-high 9.1 rpg) and recorded the second-most double-doubles (18). She also added career highs in assists (3.1 apg) and blocks (1.2 bpg) to go with 1.3 steals in 33 games.
Her performance lead the LA Sparks to a 26-8 record, good enough for the No. 2 seed in the 2016 WNBA Playoffs where they are still competing.
Of course Ogwumike was elated with the honor.
“As far as goals go, this honor has always been on a list I wrote down in the back of some journal years ago,” Ogwumike said. “Dreams don’t sprout overnight, and triumph doesn’t grow from trees. My 2016 season is a reflection of years of being a student of the game, hours of grueling practice, memories favorable and unfavorable, of great teammates and heartbreaking losses on the court. My hindsight is 20/20 and what lays ahead of me may not be visible, but I’m certain is bright. As the WNBA 2016 MVP, I want to say thank you. I’m humbly honored and can’t wait for what’s next.”
“This is a well-deserved honor and award for Nneka,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “She has had a season of extreme efficiency for the ages and Nneka has worked extremely hard to expand her game. Not only has she been dominate at the offensive end, but also she has developed that defensive stopper mentality and is one of our key team leaders, and will be for the WNBA in the future.”
Locally, Women’s basketball authority Kris Gardner of the Houston Roundball Review is not surprised to see the success Nneka has enjoyed.
“I remember seeing her hoop for the Cy-Fair Shock (AAU squad). College coaches were all over the gym to watch her play,” Gardner recalled. “Her choice to attend Stanford was great for her, the Houston area, and of course Stanford. She dominated college basketball. Her work ethic and tenacity was second-to-none. Her quick jumping ability helped her excel when she was battling for rebounds on offense and defense. Plus, she has tremendous leg strength (volleyball background), which helps her hold her position in the low post.”
“Nneka can beat opponents with her athleticism as well as her brain,” Gardner continued. “She capitalizes on an opponent’s weaknesses and her killer instinct adds to her complete package.”