The WNBA crowned their Most Valuable Player last month and she is currently working on bringing Los Angeles their first title in 14 years. Nneka Ogwumike, the 6-2 power forward of Nigerian decent, had a stellar 2016 season and looks to cap it off with a WNBA title.
It’s the first MVP honor for the fourth-year standout from Stanford. Ogwumike, who averaged a career-high 19.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 blocks for the LA Sparks this season, ranked third in the regular season in scoring and rebounding. She increased her shooting percentage 14% from the 2015 season and added a 3-point shot, going 16 of 26 in 33 games. She also ramped up her rebounding, grabbing 77 offensive rebounds (sixth best in the league) and 222 defensive rebounds (third best). She was the clear-cut MVP winner having received 31 of 39 first-place votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.
Nnemkadi “Nneka” Ogwumike grew up in Houston, but traveled often with her siblings to her parents’ homeland of Nigeria. Her sister, Chiney, plays in the WNBA too and the sisters have a healthy sibling rivalry, but it’s their work off the court that is most meaningful.
Working with UNICEF, the sisters have set up programs for high school groups around the country. They’ve started a fundraising campaign with the aim of providing 1 million girls in Nigeria access to education, awarding scholarships for female teachers and helping create safe environments for girls in the country.
“We are extremely lucky that we get to be paid to do something we love like playing basketball, 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.” ~Nneka Ogwumike
In the meantime the MVP and her second seeded Sparks are battling the defending champions Minnesota Lynx for the 2016 WNBA title.