Sports

A spectacular basketball season ends with the Wooden Award

The women's basketball world made it official on Friday night. Stanford senior Chiney Ogwumike was the best player in the country this year.


Ogwumike was named the John R. Wooden Award winner at the Wooden Award Gala in Los Angeles. Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer and Stanford grad Nnemkadi Ogwumike were on hand to witness the honor.

She was with her sister at the Wooden Award gala in previous years only to see Nneka go home empty-handed.

"I guess three times the charm," Chiney said.

Ogwumike became the first recipient from both Stanford and the Pac-12 to win the Wooden Award. It follows a record-setting season from the consensus All-American. She was named to her third straight WBCA Coaches' All-America Team at the Final Four in Nashville this past weekend in addition to earning her second straight nod to the Associated Press' All-America First Team last month.

She also earned All-America nods to the John R. Wooden Award, ESPN, and USBWA teams for the second year in a row.

Ogwumike finished the year as the only player in the nation to finish in the NCAA top 10 in scoring (26.1 ppg – fourth), rebounding (12.1 rpg – ninth), field-goal percentage (60.1 – fourth), and double-doubles (27 – third). She swept the Pac-12's Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards for the second straight year, with the defensive honor being her third in a row.

Her performances helped Stanford to a 33-4 record and the program's 12th Final Four appearance, sixth in the last seven years. The Cardinal also claimed its 14th consecutive Pac-12 regular season title and posted a perfect 16-0 record at home.

Ogwumike set numerous career and single-season records at both the school and conference levels this season.

On Jan. 3 she became the Pac-12's all-time leader in rebounds, passing former teammate Kayla Pedersen's benchmark of 1,266, and finished with 1,567 rebounds.

Over two months later, in an NCAA Tournament First Round game against South Dakota on March 22, Ogwumike passed former Stanford star Candice Wiggins' mark of 2,629 points to become the Pac-12's all-time leading scorer, finishing her career four games later with 2,737 points.

She also set new Stanford career benchmarks for field-goal percentage (58.9) and field goals made (1,100), besting the previous marks of Jeanne Ruark Hoff (58.6) and older sister Nnemkadi Ogwumike (965), respectively. Her total of 1,100 field goals is also the Pac-12 career record.

Her total of 967 points in also stands as the Pac-12 single-season benchmark, while she set new single-season conference marks with nine Pac-12 Player of the Week honors and 18 for her career.

At the NCAA level, Ogwumike's rebounding total (1,567) ranks fifth all-time, while her scoring figure of 2,737 ranks 25th. Her 967 points this season goes down as the sixth-highest single-season total in NCAA history.

Off the court, Ogwumike showed her academic and creative versatility. In February she was named an Academic All-American of the Year for the second straight season. A month later, she was named the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year prior to the Pac-12 Tournament.

In mid-March, she wrote and helped perform Stanford Athletics' newest hit single, "N-E-R-D-S (#NerdAnthem)" which has become the soundtrack to the postseason runs of both the Stanford women's and men's basketball teams' runs to the Sweet 16 and beyond.

Reaching tens of thousands of hits and shares over social media while uniting Nerd Nation behind the Cardinal athletic programs, the follow-up to her and Nneka's 2012 hit "Nerd City Kids" has become the rallying cry of the Stanford athletic department and its fan base.

While accepting the Legends of Coaching award earlier in the evening, VanDerveer inadvertently blurted out that Ogwumike was the women's Wooden winner. VanDerveer stopped herself midway through.

Ogwumike received 774 points in nationwide voting that took place from March 12-25, including the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Odyssey Sims of Baylor finished second with 761.

Breanna Stewart of national champion Connecticut was third at 732. Kayla McBride of Notre Dame finished fourth at 562 and Alyssa Thomas of Maryland was fifth at 509.

"I'm so humbled," Ogwumike said. "The girls on the video are equally as deserving. I'm just in awe."

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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