Arike Ogunbowale hit two of the biggest shots in women’s Final Four history and with those shots, led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the national championship back in April. That championship capped off a successful junior year for the 5-foot-8 guard from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Now, when we say successful, just look at what was earned:
AP Second Team All American. USA Today First Team All American. Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Spokane All-Regional Team and MVP. First Team All-ACC.
Ogunbowale led the Irish in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game, while still grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. She had to become one of the leaders of the team after losing four players to torn ACLs. Brianna Turner, Mychael Johnson, Mikayla Vaughn and Lili Thompson all were done for the season and left the team with seven scholarship players.
She came through in the clutch for Notre Dame the entire season and was the clearly the best player in the NCAA Tournament.
Arike Ogunbowale hit two once-in-a-lifetime shots in the same weekend and she knew how big time it was to do so. She admitted so during a press conference, “To do that twice in one weekend, the biggest stage in college basketball, it’s crazy.”
Before the Final Four, before the successful season she had this past season, Ogunbowale was a high school standout in the state of Wisconsin at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School. She was one of the best players in the country and was named to countless All-American teams.
The former McDonald’s All-American was also a successful player for the United States in international play, winning countless medals playing for the national teams while she was in high school. Ogunbowale has become a great person and a great player. Her father Gregory knew she was going to reach this status.
Back in 2014, Gregory Ogunbowale noted, “The thing people tell us the most about her is what a great person she is. That’s more important to us than basketball. She’s always gone to religious schools, and she wanted to continue with that flavor. We’re blessed that she is. We know that she’s going to be a girl with values, and that’s more important to us.”
Now yes, she became a star in college basketball with those shots. After that is when Ogunbowale became a rock star. Appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, being surprised by Kobe Bryant, and competing on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, the rising senior guard was living the life. In reality, though, she just wanted to focus on doing it again.
Speaking to The Undefeated back in April, Arike Ogunbowale stated, “That’s the main goal: to do it again. That’s why I came here. That’s really my main goal.”
The irony of one of the two shots is that she hit it against Connecticut. Ogunbowale noted the five schools that she was interested in on Twitter prior to all of this, with Auriemma writing a subtweet about her. Four years later, Ogunbowale was able to get the last laugh.
For the record, no non-Connecticut team has repeated as national champions since 2008 when the Tennessee Lady Vols won the championship again after winning it in 2007. Ogunbowale is going to work hard to repeat as champion and she’ll have a lot of help this year to do it. Turner and Vaughn are returning after the ACL injuries, Marina Mabrey and Jessica Shepard are also returning to the rotation. Ogunbowale will not go at it alone.
Arike Ogunbowale has been a special player since she was in high school and now she’s repeating that success for Notre Dame. Although she has received major success, her stardom is just getting started.
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