Ogwumike re-signs with Sparks

By Austin Knoblauch
Los Angeles Times/TNS

LOS ANGELES - Chiney Ogwumike, a two-time WNBA All-Star and former No. 1 overall pick, has re-signed with the Sparks ahead of the 2021 season, the team announced Thursday.

Ogwumike, 28, returns to the Sparks after opting out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has averaged 13.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game since being drafted by the Connecticut Sun in 2014.

"I am hyped to be back with the Sparks," Ogwumike said in a statement. "A lot of people say, especially when it comes to women, that we can't have it all. But I'm trying to be living proof that we can, or at least come as close as possible. I want to win a WNBA championship with my sister, and I want to keep pushing boundaries off the court. I'm really grateful to be a part of an organization that works with me to change the game on and off the court."

With Ogwumike set to return, the Sparks will shift their focus on signing her older sister, Nneka Ogwumike, who remains a free agent. With the Sparks having lost Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams in free agency, making sure the Ogwumike sisters remain in the fold is one of the top priorities for coach and general manager Derek Fisher this offseason.

The Sparks acquired Chiney Ogwumike from the Sun before the 2019 season in exchange for their 2020 first-round pick. She played in 32 regular-season games and four playoff contests, averaging 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Even though she didn't play last season, Ogwumike stayed busy. She became the first Black woman to co-host a national ESPN radio show and was among the most vocal supporters of the #SayHerName movement. In addition, she served as an election day poll worker in her hometown of Houston.

"We're excited to have Chiney Ogwumike back on the court with us," Fisher said in a statement. "In 2019, Chiney brought us energy, defense, rebounding and an ability to score efficiently. Off the court, she continues to raise the bar as a role model, entrepreneur and civic leader. She's an important part of our Sparks family and we're looking forward to having her back."