Day in the Life: Nneka Ogwumike
Editor's note: Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike was Monday's No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft, and espnW and contributor Andrew Lovell tagged along and followed her draft-day experience.
Monday: Draft day!
4:59 p.m. ET: Ogwumike puts a wrap on draft-day activities by posting a photo of herself and sister, Chiney, playing basketball at Stanford in the Title IX photo mosaic for espnW.
After she uploads the photo, someone types in her favorite sport -- basketball.
"What if that's not my favorite?" she quips.
More people congratulate Ogwumike on the draft. She says thanks, and goes to look for her family and friends.
4:20 p.m. ET: Next stop on the seemingly endless media parade: "SportsNation."
Ogwumike joins hosts Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle for a chat about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the draft and her future.
"I'm embracing every moment," Ogwumike said.
Ogwumike mentions it's her mother's birthday, drawing a hearty cheer from the in-studio crowd.
4:02 p.m. ET: Ogwumike joins the in-studio panel at the draft and talks about the encouragement she received from former Stanford players currently in the WNBA. She also briefly discusses her first basketball experience.
"Jean shorts, two-ball dribbling, don't want to talk about it," Ogwumike joked.
3:42 p.m. ET: As Ogwumike makes her way to the "SportsCenter" studio, ESPN's Trey Wingo shouts out a congratulations from the opposite studio.
"Thank you!" Ogwumike answers back.
Like all her interviews Monday, Ogwumike handles "SportsCenter" like a champ, even discussing her hobby of stamp collecting.
3:27 p.m. ET: Ogwumike takes a few minutes before her "SportsCenter" interview to video chat with a gathering of fans in Los Angeles.
On her way down the stairs, she sees Notre Dame's Natalie Novosel, who was selected eighth overall by the Washington Mystics. Two picks later, Novosel was reunited with former AAU teammate LaSondra Barrett of LSU.
Ogwumike and Novosel share a quick hug and congratulate each other.
3:14 p.m. ET: Ogwumike wraps up her phone interviews and heads back to the Digital Center for an interview on "SportsCenter". In her final call of the first session, Ogwumike again points to Parker and Hoffman as strengths for the Sparks, but she also mentions Nicky Anosike and Alana Beard. Ogwumike will try to follow in the footsteps of the previous four No. 1 overall picks, all of whom won the WNBA Rookie of the Year award.
2:58 p.m. ET: Shekinna Stricklen, the No. 2 pick by the Seattle Storm, joins Ogwumike in the phone room. Ogwumike discusses her sports fandom. If you're wondering, the Cypress, Texas, native is all Houston everything -- Astros, Rockets, Texans and the WNBA's first dynasty, the Comets.
2:40 p.m. ET: After the battery of photos, Ogwumike is led back upstairs for a phone call with the Sparks.
"Are you all having a good time?" Ogwumike asks her group of followers, which by this point has whittled down to six or seven.
Ogwumike's positive energy and genuine excitement to join the Sparks is evident in her voice.
"I can't even put it into words," Ogwumike says. "I'm just so excited to be a part of the Sparks."
On a second call, Ogwumike discusses her role with the team. Though she expects to play and contribute immediately, she's looking forward to learning from veteran post players like Candace Parker and Ebony Hoffman.
2:34 p.m. ET: Ogwumike takes photos in her new digs: a No. 30 Sparks jersey. During her media gauntlet, Ogwumike tries to keep tabs on the rest of the first round.
"Where did Glory [Johnson] go?" Ogwumike asks. Someone tells her -- No. 4 to the Tulsa Shock.
"Oh, Tulsa, nice!" Ogwumike says.
2:17 p.m. ET: Ogwumike starts the media circuit by answering some questions for a WNBA.com live chat. From there, it's on to the media room to face a dozen or so reporters and photographers. After that, Ogwumike, the second all-time leading scorer in Pac-12 history, is led to the makeshift family and friends tent on the ESPN basketball court for more pictures. It's a whirlwind. Ogwimuke says she's just relieved to know where she's going.
2:09 p.m. ET: The Los Angeles Sparks select Ogwumike with the No. 1 overall pick.
2:00 p.m. ET: The live television broadcast begins on ESPN2 with a montage of the invitees in action during their college days. We then get shots of a handful of WNBA teams' draft war rooms. The Sparks are on the clock.
1:45 p.m. ET: Nneka and the rest of the players are reminded of the draft procedure (and to make sure their cellphones are turned off). The draft tables are now full, with parents and other family members surrounding the invitees. Fifteen minutes and counting ...
1:35 p.m. ET: The draft floor is cleared of media members. Two family members for each invitee are allowed to enter the floor. Parents get in their final good-luck hugs.
1:21 p.m. ET: The draftees are called to the draft stage for the annual group photo. Ogwumike takes the middle seat, front and center. Holding a WNBA basketball, she looks calm and confident. She shares a quick laugh with Lynetta Kizer. After a few minutes of group photos, WNBA commissioner Laurel J. Richie joins the group on stage.
1:15 p.m. ET: After a short ride on a shuttle bus over to ESPN's Digital Center, Ogwumike and the other draftees get their first look at the WNBA draft setup. It's finally starting to set in. Less than one hour now until the first pick.
"I'm just so excited," Ogwumike says.
Fifteen tables are set up, three rows of five, one for each of the invitees. Media members get their last interview questions in. Ogwumike says she's going to practice her walk to the podium.
"Don't fall," Ogwumike jokes. "Don't trip!"
12:15 p.m. ET: Ogwumike takes a break to check her phone. The texts are coming fast and furious now. Ogwumike, sitting next to Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters, takes it all in stride.
"We're just so grateful to be here," she says. "We're grateful to be one of the 15 here."
The weekend, which has included orientation, a children's clinic and a "W Lounge" session -- in which players received hair and wardrobe consultations -- has been a blur for the invitees. No time to think about, though; it's time for the players to get dressed for the draft.
Noon ET: Ogwumike emerges from the makeup area. She's ready to roll. It's easy to see why Ogwumike is expected to go No. 1 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks. At 6-foot-2, she looks every bit the part of the prototypical WNBA power forward. And though she's still hours away from the draft, she handles the pressure like a professional. Ogwumike answers questions for an ESPN camera crew ... before finishing off with a few verses from her freestyle "Nerd City," a creation of Nneka's and younger sister Chiney. Her sunny disposition is infectious. She's the total package teams look for in a top overall pick.
11:30 a.m. ET: After a luncheon for the 15 WNBA draft invitees and assorted ESPN executives, Ogwumike heads to the players' lounge on the bottom floor of Building 4 on ESPN's Bristol campus. The players turn their attention to their outfits. Behind a curtained-off area, the players take turns touching up their makeup and hair. Ogwumike, now sporting an orange dress, follows the rest of the draftees and signs four WNBA Spalding basketballs at the front of the room.
10-11 a.m. ET Nneka and 14 other WNBA draftees take part in a bunch with ESPN employees, moderated and hosted by ESPN anchor Cindy Brunson:
8-9:30 a.m. ET: Nneka is up bright and early to get ready for the big day. She has a plan for her draft-day look ("I heard orange pops on camera."), and gets some support from a familiar face. We also get to hitch a ride with Nneka and the other draftees as they head to ESPN headquarters for today's festivities. Did Nneka also mention it's her mother's birthday today?
Sunday: First, it's about the kids
Ogwumike and her fellow draftees took part in a fitness clinic with local kids at ESPN's Kid Center in Bristol, Conn. The kids learned how to dribble and received advice from this year's draft class:
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