Arike Ogunbowale says she withdrew her name from U.S. Olympic team consideration

Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale took her name out of the USA Basketball pool for the 2024 Paris Olympics, she said on Shannon Sharpe, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Gilbert Arenas’ podcast “Nightcap” on Thursday.

“Me being me, I just felt the vibes. When it comes to (the Olympic trials), it really doesn’t have much to do with your game,” she said. “It’s really about who they feel fits with the team … So I actually took my name out of the pool months ago.”

The three-time All-Star previously thought she was “good enough” to be on the Olympic roster, but felt the criteria for selection was “subjective,” she said.  When asked by Johnson if “politics came into play” in the committee’s decision-making process, Ogunbowale said she thought so, and that politics was always part of the selection process.

“Whether that’s USA Basketball, whether that’s All-Star teams, whether that’s First Team, and stuff like that, there’s politics … Even with the men’s (basketball teams),” she said. “There’s politics in everything, so I’m gonna just leave it at that.”

In the selection of the U.S. roster, committee chair Jen Rizzotti told The Athletic this week that players’ past experience was heavily considered, an indicator as to why Indiana Fever rookie sensation Caitlin Clark was left off the roster.

“We were supposed to be giving (Olympic coach) Cheryl (Reeve) a team that has experience and familiarity with international competition, familiarity with the coaching system, leadership abilities, versatility, depth at every position,” Rizzotti said. “The 12 that we selected, we felt were the best when it boiled down to a basketball decision.”

The roster shows that preference for veterans with the selection of A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Alyssa Thomas, Napheesa Collier, Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Sabrina Ionescu, Chelsea Gray and Kahleah Copper.

The U.S. women have won gold at every Olympics since 1996. The U.S. women’s team is again expected to be the favorite in Paris.

“Everybody’s great in the WNBA, so who they choose is who they choose,” Ogunbowale said.

While Ogunbowale won’t dress for the U.S. in the 2024 Olympics, she could petition to play for Nigeria, though there’s been no indication that is in the works. Last Olympics, former WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike’s petition to play for Nigeria in Tokyo was denied by FIBA due to her long involvement with Team USA.

Detroit Pistons forward and Nigerian-American basketball player Chimezie Metu said “Arike. It’s time,” alongside a Nigerian flag on X last week.

The fifth pick in the 2019 Draft, Ogunbowale was previously named to the All-WNBA First Team in 2021 and Second Team in 2022. Through 11 games for the Wings this season, she averaged 26.2 points (second in the league), 4.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 36.5 percent from the field. She also leads the WNBA with 3.1 steals a game.

(Photo: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)

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