Ogwumike received the award Thursday at a news conference in Connecticut. Attending was sister Nneka of the Los Angeles Sparks, the league’s rookie of the year in 2012, and their father. This is the first time siblings have won the award.
Chiney Ogwumike, the No. 1 pick in last April’s draft, averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds.
“It means the world to me,” she said. “When Nneka does things, she puts them on the map for me. I want to do that, too. To have her here to share in this is really special.”
Ogwumike received 23 votes from a national panel of 38 sports writers and broadcasters. Tulsa’s Odyssey Sims had 12 votes and San Antonio’s Kayla McBride two. Atlanta’s Shoni Schimmel, the MVP of the All-Star game, drew the other vote.
“There were so many great performances by my fellow rookies this year it was amazing,” Ogwumike said. “There were some magical moments and a great spirit in our class.”
Ogwumike led all rookies in double-doubles (13) and was second in the WNBA in offensive rebounds (123). She and her sister also were league ambassadors, partnering with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to raise money for programs aimed at girls’ education and empowerment in Nigeria.
Ogwumike was recently added to the U.S. women’s basketball national team training pool. She’ll join her sister in Maryland starting Sept. 8, with both looking to make the world championship roster.
“It’s the pinnacle of achievement in our sport,” she said. “I know I’ll bring energy and a youthful exuberance with me every day to practice. Going up against the best players in the world will only help me get better as a player.”
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