Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale – ‘Politics’ involved in selection for the Olympic Games

Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale told the “Nightcap” podcast in an episode released Thursday that she withdrew her name from the pool for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team “months ago” and that she thinks “politics” plays a role in the selection of the team. .

The 12-member 5-on-5 U.S. women’s team for the Paris Games was announced Tuesday. The most talked about players who didn’t make the cut were Indiana rookie guard Caitlin Clark and Ogunbowale, who was one of the top scorers in the league during her six WNBA seasons, all with Dallas.

“Being me, I just felt the vibe,” Ogunbowale said of how she thought she was being judged by USA Basketball. “When it comes to things like that, it doesn’t really have much to do with your game. It’s really about who they feel they fit into the team. That goes for the men’s side as well.”

“The committees say they are looking for people who… I honestly don’t know. But I could already see it. I took my name out of the pool months ago. With the pool it is a big commitment. If I know they don’t choose me, I’m not going to keep going to these (camps) if I know the atmosphere. I’m not going to give you my time if I know the atmosphere.

Speaking to podcast hosts Shannon Sharpe and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Ogunbowale said there is so much talent in the WNBA that several players could be Olympians.

“It’s subjective who they think should be on the team; everyone is great in the WNBA,” she said. “So who they choose is who they choose, I don’t really have any control over that.”

The guard position has a lot of depth on this Olympic team. It is led by six-time Olympian Diana Taurasi of Phoenix and two-time Olympians Jewell Loyd (Seattle), Chelsea Gray, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum (all with Las Vegas). The other guard on the U.S. team is Sabrina Ionescu of New York, who is competing in her first Olympics.

Ogunbowale is currently the top scoring guard in the WNBA. Her PPG average of 24.9 is second only to Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson’s 28.0. Wilson will compete in her second Olympic Games.

Over the years, some players have said they thought college and professional connections could play a role in who made the U.S. team. Ogunbowale won a national championship at Notre Dame in 2018 and was the fifth pick in the 2019 WNBA draft.

“I can’t really speak to USA Basketball in general,” Ogunbowale said. “But just when I think about women’s basketball … the politics are always around it. Whether it’s USA Basketball, All-Star teams, (All-WNBA) first team, there’s politics. There’s politics in everything.”

An American basketball official confirmed to ESPN on Saturday that Ogunbowale has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Olympics. USA Basketball had no comment on Ogunbowale’s comments about “politics” as part of the selection.

However, in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday, USA Basketball selection committee chairwoman Jennifer Rizzotti said the only criteria for choosing the Olympians is building the best possible team for the competition.

She said things like where a player went to college, what pro team she is on or her age were not discussed by the six-member committee.

“What we would discuss was the player’s body of work and why he deserved to be on the team,” Rizzotti said.

If selected as All-Stars, Ogunbowale and Clark could both get a chance to meet the Olympians before heading to Paris. During the WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix on July 20, the American team will compete against a team of other WNBA All-Stars.

That was also the case in 2021 and Ogunbowale won All-Star MVP honors with 26 points as Team WNBA defeated Team USA 93-85 in Las Vegas.