By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
Chiney Ogwumike has always enjoyed following in her sister’s footsteps. Now she joins her as a winner of the WNBA rookie of the year award.
Ogwumike received the award Thursday at a press conference in Connecticut with her sister Nneka, who was the league’s rookie of the year in 2012, and father in attendance. It is the first time that siblings have won the award given to the league’s top rookie.
The No. 1 pick in last April’s draft averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Sun this year.
“It means the world to me,” Chiney Ogwumike 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 sportswriters and broadcasters. Tulsa’s Odyssey Sims finished second with 12 votes and San Antonio’s Kayla McBride got two. Atlanta’s Shoni Schimmel, who was the MVP of the All-Star game, got the other vote.
“There were so many great performances by my fellow rookies this year it was amazing,” said Ogwumike. “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 also was a great ambassador for the league off the court. The Ogwumike sisters partnered with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to raise money to support programs focusing on 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 on Sept. 8 to train with the team with hopes of making 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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