Arike Ogunbowale facts are sure to blow your mind! For starters, in 2018, the name Arike Ogunbowale became a household name. As the young star issued a breakout performance in that season’s NCAA tournament with late-game heroics lifting Notre Dame to a national championship.
Since then, she has gone on to an emphatic start to her WNBA career with the Dallas Wings. And last season in the bubble, her name was mentioned in the MVP conversation. Despite the Wings narrowly finishing in the lottery for the second consecutive season.
She is already well on her way to an illustrious professional career. So today we take a look at 25 interesting facts about Arike Ogunbowale. From where she attended high school, to her multiple television appearances, to the diverse array of teams she’s already made an impact on, learn everything you need to know.
The greatness of Arike has earned her praise, particularly in South Bend and in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. But she definitely does not forget where it all began for her.
She, of course, is a native of Milwaukee. In late 2018, in her senior campaign with Notre Dame, Arike had the opportunity to return to her native hometown when the Fighting Irish, defending champions at the time, faced the Marquette Golden Eagles. Her family was at the Al McGuire Center, the home venue for Marquette’s women’s basketball team.
(Side note – the men’s team, for some reason, plays at Fiserv Forum, the home court of the MNBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. File that one in the inequality pile).
Notre Dame defeated Marquette 87-63 behind 32 points from Arike.
Prior to Arike playing under the bright lights of the WNBA and before she etched her name in history at Notre Dame, it was the girls basketball scene in the state of Wisconsin that took notice of her skills.
She played her high school basketball at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School northwest of downtown Milwaukee. While she was there, she won the Gatorade State Player of the Year award on three different occasions.
She won a state championship in her senior season at Divine Savior Holy Angels and scored 55 points in a single game. Arike also had the honor of being named Miss Basketball for the state of Wisconsin, as well as a McDonald’s All American.
The success that Arike has found at the highest level of women’s basketball is also fitting given that she comes from a sports family.
Included in that sports background is Dare Ogunbowale, Arike’s older brother. He is an NFL runningback that is currently with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Following playing all four seasons with the Wisconsin Badgers, his career has included stints with the Houston Texans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (twice) and the Washington Football Team.
In many ways, he had to pave his own way to get where he wants. He was originally a walk-on at Wisconsin and went undrafted en route to the NFL.
If you’re wondering where Arike gets the greatness gene from, she may very well have had it transferred to her by way of her mother.
Yolanda Ogunbowale, originally Yolanda Block, was considered to be one of the greatest athletes in the history of the NIC-10 (Northern Illinois Conference). She played both volleyball and basketball in the fall and winter months. But it was on the softball field where she really made her mark.
She was a standout pitcher as part of a Harlem (Illinois) High School team that won 61 games and only suffered five losses in her prep career. Her team went undefeated and brought home a state championship in her senior season. She also coached Arike in the first grade and continued to do so for many years.
With a high school resume as vast as Arike’s was, she was sure to receive plenty of recruiting attention from would-be schools hoping to have her wear their colors.
One of those many universities that attempted to lure Arike was DePaul, which is right down the road from Milwaukee in Chicago. Arike’s mother, Yolanda, was a star softball player at DePaul. Which coach Doug Bruno figured would give them an advantage over other possible suitors.
Instead of going to the school based in the Windy City, Arike attended Notre Dame. Which is a university known for, among other things, having a strong and loyal fanbase in the Chicago area.
It is almost a guarantee that UConn will make every Final Four, but Geno Auriemma’s Huskies had not cut down the nets since 2016. The Huskies were looking to change that in 2018, but No. 24 had other ideas.
Arike, with the game tied at 89 apiece in overtime, sank a go-ahead jumper which put the Fighting Irish ahead by a tally of 91-89. UConn would have one more chance to tie the game, but its attempt would be unsuccessful. Sending Notre Dame to a get-together in the national championship game with Mississippi State – the team that broke UConn hearts the previous March Madness.
Whoever said the old maxim that lightning cannot strike twice in the same place apparently never met Arike Ogunbowale.
Columbus, the host city for the 2018 Women’s Final Four was the stage – and Arike was the leading star. And after her thrilling finale to dispatch of UConn, she decided to follow up with an encore against Mississippi State.
This time, Arike’s late-game heroics were of the three-point variety as she drained a buzzer-beater from downtown to lift the Fighting Irish to the national championship that season.
Ogunbowale’s Mamba Mentality was in full force in central Ohio three years ago.
Three years ago, with Arike still basking in the glow of leading her Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the 2018 national championship, she had become a celebrity in her own right.
And where do celebrities go when their stars shine the brightest? They make appearances on the ABC show Dancing With the Stars. She was partnered with Russian dancer Gleb Savchenko.
Interestingly enough when Arike went “Dancing” on the alphabet channel, she was able to make an appearance on the show because of an NCAA waiver where she was there “unrelated to her basketball abilities.”
Apparently the NCAA was not watching the same Final Four we saw three seasons ago, which appears to be par for the course for the NCAA and women’s sports.
After the big dance, Arike’s dancing appearance was not the only mainstream television appearance she made. She also appeared on a program with a now much-maligned host who was once somewhat famous for her own brand of dancing as well.
Arike was a guest on Ellen DeGeneres’ television show in early April after the conclusion of the tournament. One cannot help but shed a tear at clips of her appearance given who also made a surprise appearance – her basketball idol, the late, great Kobe Bryant.
All. The. Feels.
Arike going two-for-two in game-winners in the 2018 NCAA tournament even got recognition at that year’s ESPY Awards.
One of the awards handed out at every ESPYs is Best Play and Arike’s game-winners were a nominee for Best Play at the 2018 rendition. Arike took home ESPYs hardware to add to her NCAA trophies.
Arike and Notre Dame were also nominees for two other awards that ESPYs night. One of those was Best Team which went to … the 2017 Houston Astros. Given the Astros’ trash can scandal from that season which won them the World Series, can we go back and at least give Best Team to the Fighting Irish?
When Arike bid farewell to her collegiate career in South Bend, she not only left with a national championship and being named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2018 NCAA tournament. But also departed Notre Dame having held a number of records.
Arike became the Fighting Irish’s all-time leading scorer with 2,626 points in her career. And she has the most games with double-digit points (127).
Arike also tops the Notre Dame record book of 20-point games in a season with 27. She also has the most 30-point games in a season (7) as well in a career (11).
South Carolina recently unveiled a statue of A’ja Wilson outside Colonial Life Arena. Perhaps the Fighting Irish should take some notes from the Gamecocks and immortalize one of its all-time greats.
It is not every tournament that a team’s star player nails two game-winning shots to propel a team to a national championship. But when it does, it earns said player and said team national recognition.
Arike going full hero in 2018 got her on the front cover of Sports Illustrated that year with the cover headline reading “Ice! (Twice!).” While many casual fans remember Arike’s buzzer-beaters, what they may forget is in the national title game with Mississippi State, the Fighting Irish trailed the Bulldogs at one point by 15 points.
The rest, as is commonly said, is history.
Arike and Notre Dame returned to the national championship game the following season only to be defeated by Baylor. A game in which she missed a free throw late, that if it went in would have sent the game to overtime. After that season, it was time to look to the year’s WNBA draft, which Arike would be part of.
That year’s draft was held at Nike’s New York City headquarters. After being passed up by the Las Vegas Aces (Jackie Young), New York Liberty (Asia Durr), Indiana Fever (Teaira McCowan) and Chicago Sky (Katie Lou Samuelson), Greg Bibb, Brian Agler and the Dallas Wings selected Arike with the fifth pick in that draft.
So far, the Dallas Wings have struck (navy blue and) gold with that pick.
After Arike Ogunbowale was selected fifth in the 2019 draft, the Minnesota Lynx picked UConn’s Napheesa Collier with the sixth overall selection.
Napheesa and Arike became the two standout rookies of the 2019 class. And they established themselves as the front-runners for that year’s Rookie of the Year award.
Eventually that honor would be bestowed upon Napheesa, whose Lynx managed to make that season’s playoffs. Arike, though, displayed that she will be a name the WNBA will have to reckon with for a while. She averaged over 19 points and three assists along with starting in 28 games for the Dallas Wings that year.
Arike has displayed that she can get it done regardless of the circumstances of a season – whether that season involves the typical arena-to-arena and city-to-city travel of 2019, or if the entire WNBA is moved to a bubble, as was the case for 2020.
She followed up her 2019 rookie campaign with a sophomore rendition that was every bit as impressive. Arike averaged nearly 23 points per game and got the start in all 22 games. She also managed a 41 percent shooting percentage from the field. She even put her name in that year’s MVP conversation.
Eventually, last year’s MVP award went to A’ja Wilson.
When one plays for the team Dynamo Kursk, that player must be among the top players in the world given how renowned the team is in women’s basketball circles.
Arike has played for the team, which is part of the EuroLeague. Kursk managed to clinch the final playoff berth in this past season’s playoffs.
The season ended last month for Kursk as they were eliminated from postseason play in the EuroLeague quarterfinals by another EuroLeague powerhouse in UMMC Ekaterinburg by a final score of 94-59. Arike, as expected, got the start for her team led all Dynamo Kursk scorers with 14 points in over 24 minutes of play.
Could Arike be part of Team USA when the Stars and Stripes look to claim a seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal at the Games in Tokyo? There stands a chance.
She was chosen among a number of elite women’s basketball talents to be part of a USA Basketball minicamp at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Dawn Staley, the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, is also the head coach of USA Basketball.
Arike’s teammate with the Dallas Wings, Allisha Gray, was also among those who made the cut for the minicamp.
Even though Arike is part of the pool of players that USA Basketball could choose to represent America in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, it will not be the first time she will have participated in an event for Team USA.
Arike participated on the USA Basketball 3×3 U18 team in 2015 that won a silver medal that tournament. She made the all-tournament team. Kristine Anigwe, currently with the Los Angeles Sparks, was also on that 3×3 team. Two years ago, Arike won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup in Puerto Rico.
At the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, Arike was also part of that 3×3 which concluded that year’s Games with an undefeated 13-0 mark – and a gold medal.
In her career for USA Basketball (mostly at the youth level up to this point), she has only been part of three defeats in 65 games: one loss in her five-on-five career with Team USA and two in 3×3 competition.
The WNBA’s entry into the video gaming realm has given the stars of the W a greater opportunity to evaluate their 2K ratings whenever they are playing as themselves (or someone else).
At last check, Arike’s 2K21 rating was at a 87, listed in the top 20 of current WNBA player ratings. She is the highest rated of any Dallas Wings player.
Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky), Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Las Vegas Aces), Kristi Toliver (Los Angeles Sparks), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx) and Kayla McBride (Minnesota Lynx) are other 87s.
Engage is a Los Angeles-based platform that, according to its website, is “designed to digitize the process of booking anything from a speech to a once in a lifetime experience.”
Arike is listed as one of many of the sports personalities that are part of the Engage platform. Her page on the Let’s Engage website gives would-be bookers of hers the ability to request her to host one’s next virtual basketball clinic, a special appearance or partnership or other sort of custom experience.
Other WNBA players with Engage pages include Skylar Diggins-Smith, Elena Delle Donne and Allisha Gray.
When one is as big a star as Arike has become, opportunities will arise left and right to claim and secure the bag.
One of those opportunities for Arike? Her very own website, which happens to also be the site that links to her very own clothing line. The top of the site features a link to her PWRFWD page featuring T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats. Many of the offerings on the site showcase Arike’s signature logo.
By the way, PWRFWD, founded by Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and other athletes, also features clothing from additional WNBA stars – including A’ja Wilson, Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart, and Napheesa Collier.
At the beginning of the year, the NWSL, another women’s sports league that is rising in popularity, held its annual draft that was livestreamed via Twitch.
There was plenty of WNBA representation surrounding the draft – including Arike herself. She was one of several of the W’s brightest (including Angel City FC co-owner and Chicago Sky star Candace Parker) that got the growing NWSL fanbase hyped up to see which top collegiate talents would be drafted to their favorite teams.
“I also played soccer growing up and I’m a big fan of the sport,” Arike said in a video on the NWSL’s social media accounts.
One would believe that there likely is a hidden, positive meaning or connotation behind the first name Arike. Anyone who believed that is absolutely correct.
The name Arike, fittingly, means “something that you see and cherish” or “one who is blessed on sight.”
Wisconsin high school basketball fans cherished Arikewhen she was making waves in the state’s high school scene. Notre Dame fans cherished her when she willed the team to the national championship in 2018. Now, she is being cherished by Dallas Wings fans. As she is the centerpiece of the team’s rebuild out of the Skylar Diggins-Smith era.
Arike is a player that has family ties to Nigeria. (You might also think of Nneka, Chiney or both.) Arike’s father Gregory, is of Nigerian descent. He played soccer as well as rugby and even fought for the Nigerian Army. Before eventually becoming the principal of James Madison Academic Campus, northwest of downtown Milwaukee.
Arike accomplishing what she accomplished in 2018 was widely celebrated in the Nigerian community – including by the Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN) and its chairman (board of Trustees) Olayinka Dansalami.
Arike grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant. There is a reason as to why she wore No. 24 in college and why she wears the same number in the W that was made famous, most notably, by the Black Mamba.
It is why when Kobe Bryant and his daughter GiGi were among those who died in a helicopter crash in early 2020, it hit Arike hard. She named her dog Kobe. Arike first heard the sad news while playing overseas.
Kobe once presented her with a pair of signed jerseys – one for her and one for her dog. She said she planned to get both framed.
Did any Arike Ogunbowale facts surprise you? We hope you enjoyed learning more about the great Arike. And that you’ll dominate at any WNBA trivia game you play. Up next, learn more interesting WNBA facts. Or discover some WNBA players’ hobbies.
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