Stanford senior Chiney Ogwumike was the first player taken in Monday's WNBA draft, enabling her and sister Nneka to make basketball history while joining the Manning brothers in a rare sports achievement.
Nneka Oguimike, an All-American at Stanford, was the first overall draft pick in the 2012 WNBA draft, taken by the Los Angeles Sparks. Sister Chiney Ogwumike was the No. 1 overall selection this year, taken by the Connecticut Sun in Monday night's WNBA draft. You could argue that Nneka landed in a better situation, since the Sparks already had a strong supporting cast of players, while the Sun finished 10-24 last year and need a lot of help.
However, what is not debatable is that it's the first time that two siblings were both No. 1 overall picks in either the NBA or WNBA draft.
The only other siblings in the history of pro sports to be taken first overall were the Mannings in the NFL. Peyton Manning was the No. 1 pick in 1998, taken by the Indianapolis Colts, and Eli was the top pick in 2004, chosen by the New York Giants. But even they went to different colleges, with Peyton attending Tennessee and Eli following father Archie's footsteps at Mississippi.
The Ogwumikes are the first siblings to come from the same college to be the first overall picks in the pro draft of their sport.
There was little surprise when the Sun selected Ogwumike with the top pick. There were only two players being considered for that No. 1 spot, the other being Baylor guard Odyssey Sims. By the time the Sun made their pick, it had become pretty obvious Ogwumike would be their choice.
The Ogwumike sisters are very close, and they have always been teammates, both in high school at Cypress Fairbanks High School in Cypress, Texas, and at Stanford. Some highlights of their play as high school teammates are available on the accompanying video.
It will be interesting to see the sisters face off in a professional game. Their first encounter will be Sunday, July 13, when the Sparks travel to Connecticut to face the Sun. Outside of practices at Stanford, it might be the first time the sisters face each other. They might even guard each other.
“I’d say maybe we’ve played a half-hour of serious one-on-one in our lives,” Chiney told me when she was an incoming freshman at Stanford. “It’s sort of a mutual agreement, an unspoken truth, that we don’t guard each other, because of the possible complications.”
They never guarded each other during practice in high school, and never went against each other in the gym or on a hoop in the driveway. They went against each other often in Stanford practices, but it will be a much different competition when they go against each other as paid professionals with a win or loss on the line.
Chiney Ogwumike won one of the college national player of the year awards this season -- the Wooden Award -- and has expanded her game every year at Stanford. Limited to post play and offensive rebounding as a freshman, she was a capable outside threat with a variety of offensive moves by the time she was a senior. Chiney was also the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.
She is not quite as strong or as athletic as Nneka, but Chiney seems to have a better sense of the game than her sister. Chiney improved significantly during her four years at Stanford, but not as much as Nneka, who was not even a starter at the beginning of her freshman season at Stanford, then improved by leaps and bounds. It was not until her sophomore season that Nneka showed signs of becoming a star. Chiney, the top high school recruit in the country as a senior, had star quality from Day One, starting alongside her sister for her first two seasons.
Chiney's statistics as a senior were slightly better than her sister's. Chiney ranked fourth in the country in scoring this season, averaging 26.1 points, while Nneka ranked eighth at 22.5 a game as a senior in 2012. Chiney averaged 12.1 rebounds this season, ninth best in the country, while Nneka pulled 10.2 boards a game as a senior, good for 21st in the nation. Chiney shot 60.1 percent from the floor as a senior, which was fourth best nationally, while Nneka hit 58.3 percent of her shots as a senior, also fourth best that season..
Nneka averaged 14.6 points and 7.6 rebounds as a second-year pro in the WNBA in 2013.