• Time to Recognize One of The Best Sibling Duos in Basketball: Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike [Opinion]

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    Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike

    Over the years, we have seen plenty of siblings duos in basketball. Some sibling duos have involved a brother and sister like Reggie and Cheryl Miller, Rashad and Rashanda McCants, Candace and Anthony Parker. Other sibling duos have involved only brothers like Paul and Marc Gasol, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Jeff and Marquis Teague, Brook and Robin Lopez , Dick and Tom ArsdaleDominique and Gerald Wilkins, Harvey and Horace Grant and Jeff and Stan Van Gundy who went from players to coaches and basketball analysts.

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    Basketball has even experienced a three sibling group in Brent, Drew and Jon Barry along with a mom and son duo, in Pamela McGee and her son JaVale McGee, who made history by being the first WNBA player to have a child play in the NBA.

    However, when it comes to sister sibling duos in basketball, no one is better than the Ogwumike sisters, Nneka and Chiney. Nneka is currently on the Los Angeles Sparks roster, preparing for her third year in the WNBA, while Chiney is currently finishing up her senior year at Stanford, the same school in which her sister played for and graduated from.

    While both young ladies have their own individual story and amazing skill set that separates them, there is no doubt that their relationship goes beyond victories and defeats, points and rebounds, these sisters respect and support each other and they have great bond on and off the court. Now for those who don’t know, the Ogwumike family is originally from Nigeria, but Nneka and Chiney were raised in Cyprus, Texas and it is in Texas that both their careers would begin to grow.

    Both sisters attended Cypress Fairbanks High School in Cypress, Texas. While there, they made history by becoming the first siblings to win Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Awards. Both were named McDonald’s All-American in their seniors years while earning many other honors and awards, throughout their high school careers.

    However, it was at Stanford that both young ladies careers sky rocketed. For the first few years, Nneka attended and played at Stanford by herself while her sister, Chiney finished up her high school career at Cypress Fairbanks.

    While at Stanford, Nneka didn’t waste anytime making a name for herself, in her four years at Stanford, the Cardinals captured four Pacific-10/12 Conference regular season crowns and four Pac-10/12 Tournament titles, advanced to four NCAA Final Fours and played in the 2010 championship game. She broke multiple Stanford records, such as the Cardinal record for rebounds in a game with 23 to go along with 30 points in a win against Oregon. She scored a career-high 42 points while shooting 70% from the field and grabbing 17 rebounds in a win over sixth-ranked Tennessee.

    Before graduating from Stanford and heading to the WNBA, Nneka surpassed both the 2,000 point and the 1,000 rebound thresholds for her career, leaving Stanford Cardinal as the second all-time leading scorer for the women’s basketball program behind only Candice Wiggins. She ended her career in top five of Stanford’s all-time categories: free throws attempted, points scored, field-goal percentage, free throws made, rebounds, points per game and rebounds per game. Over the course of her college career, she was also nominated as a three-time Wade Trophy and Wooden Award finalist and named Pac-10 Player of the Year (2009-10).

    Nneka also had an impact with Team USA, she was a member of the USA Women’s Under 18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She helped the team win all five games, while leading all scorers and rebounders with 12 points and eight rebounds per game. She would later continue her Team USA career on the USA Women’s Under 19 team which represented the USA in the 2009 U19 World’s Championship, held in Bangkok, Thailand. She started all nine games and was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, with 13 points and almost ten rebounds per game, which led to her being named to the all-tournament team.

    Due to her great career both with Team USA and Stanford, the Los Angeles Sparks selected Nneka first overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft. In her rookie year, she led all rookies in points (14.0), rebounds (7.5), blocks (0.9) and double-doubles (9 ). She finished the season ranked second among all rookies in field goal percentage (53.5%) and fourth in steals (1.4) all while earning Rookie of the Month honors four out of five times, which led to her being named 2012 WNBA Rookie of the Year. In her second season with the Sparks, she averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and nearly two steals per game all while shooting 56 percent from the field.

    Although Chiney is still finishing up her senior year at Stanford, she has also made a name for herself. In her freshman year, she was a walking double-double, producing 11 double-doubles while leading the Cardinals in steals with 52. She also averaged a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds per game in the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament and she was even better in her five 2011 NCAA Tournament games, averaging 12 points and nine rebounds per game.

    Since her freshman year, her game and leadership have only enhanced, as a junior, she was forced to play without her sister, Nneka, who had graduated from Stanford and moved on to the WNBA. So with her sister gone, Chiney had to figure things out on her own and it safe to say that she didn’t have many issues when it came to playing without her sister as she averaged around 23 points and 13 rebounds per game last year, while earning 36 double-doubles. She also went on to earn Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in her junior year.

    Just like her sister, Nneka, she has also made an impact with Team USA, as she was named to the USA Basketball Under 18 team. Chiney started all five games and was the leading scorer and rebounder with 13 points and seven rebounds per game. The USA team won all five games and captured the gold medal. While the normal thing is for the players on the U18 team to move to the Under 19 team. Chiney played so well as a U18 that she was promoted to the World University Games team for the 2011 World University Games held in Shenzhen, China. This move, allowed her to join and play along-side her sister, Nneka who was also on the team. It was there, that they both started every game, with Chiney scoring almost ten points per game, while shooting 67 percentage from the field. She and her sister Nneka helped the USA to win all six games and earn the gold medal.

    So far in her senior year at Stanford, Chiney has been even more impressive averaging 27 points and 12 rebounds per game while shooting 63 percent from the field. She most recently, became just the fifth Stanford player to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for her career. Due to her great play along with the great play of her teammates, Stanford is currently 1st in the Pac-12. I think Chiney has firmly established herself as one of the front-runners for the National Player of the Year award and I wouldn’t be surprise at all, if she is one of the top draft picks in the upcoming 2014 WNBA Draft, at this point I predict she will be the first overall pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft.

    What I love most about their game, is their energy. Both young ladies, come ready to play and ready to work, every practice and every game. Both are driven, hard-working, coach-able competitors and leaders.

    When it comes to Nneka, you’re talking about a player with great skills and a very high basketball I.Q. Nneka doesn’t just put up big numbers just because of her talent, she understands how to reads defenses and sets them up to get beat before she even gets the ball. She is a very efficient player who’s good on the low block but she is also very good at moving without the ball, cutting and slashing to the basket. She has great athleticism and a knack for tracking down rebounds. You can always count on her to be a very active defender. Overall, Nneka, has a great combination of athleticism, a high basketball IQ, and the ability to do so many things well on both ends of the court and score from anywhere on the court. She is phenomenal competitor who had great desire to win and she is great leader on and off the court.

    Then with Chiney, you’re talking about someone who just as adept on both ends of the court and just as athletic. She is a relentless rebounder and a soaring leaper. Just like Nneka, you can always count on her to be a very active defender. She also has a high basketball IQ, a great work ethic and desire to win. Offensively, she is an acrobatic post player who can be very crafty at times and able to make tough shots with contact. There is no doubt that she has the all the skills to be the top player chosen in the 2014 WNBA Draft and she would be a great fit with just about any WNBA roster.

    Keep in mind that it’s not just basketball with these young ladies, most importantly, they represent everything we like to see in our futures leaders. Both have great personalities and amazing character and it shows on and off the court. They both believe in education and life after basketball and both believe in being involved in the community.

    Nneka served as a Stanford team captain since her sophomore season and she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, while graduating with an 3.1 grade point average. Chiney was voted a team captain of the Stanford women’s basketball team for two years running. She is currently an international relations major at Stanford, and has earned multiple honors for her academic work, she entered her senior year at Stanford with a 3.43 a cumulative grade-point average.

    The scary thing about these two, is the fact that they are just getting started. At 23 years old, Nneka is currently playing professional basketball in the WNBA and overseas while Chiney, who is 21 years old,  is currently finishing up her senior year at Stanford. I predict it won’t be long now, before Chiney joins her sister in playing professional basketball and whether they are on the same team or not, there is no doubt that they both will shine, just like they have their entire careers. If you can believe this, they have two younger sisters, Olivia and Erica, who are also talented athletes and excellent students, so be on the lookout for them as well.

    So the next time you’re talking about great sibling duos in basketball or even great basketball players, don’t forget to mention the Ogwumike sisters, Nneka and Chiney. As sisters, they are well on their way to becoming two of the top players in the WNBA within the next few years.

    Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit

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