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WNBA Draft 2012: Nnemkadi Ogwumike Will Not Live Up to Expectations

DENVER, CO - APRIL 01:  Chiney Ogwumike #13 of the Stanford Cardinal pushes the ball up court against the Baylor Bears uring the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at Pepsi Center on April 1, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2012

Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike reportedly will become the Los Angeles Sparks' No. 1 pick, but she will succumb to the pressure of being the WNBA’s top selection.

This year’s draft class has been considered one of the weakest to date. With no potential 'franchise players' available, teams want to hold on to next year’s selections rather than move up for a potential bust in this player pool.

That’s not to say Ogwumike does not have the chops to prove otherwise.The Stanford forward led her team to two consecutive Final Fours, including last year’s campaign when she averaged 22.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. There’s no doubt she’s got game.

However, Ogwumike was not supposed to be thrust into the spotlight this fast. The stage was set for Baylor's Brittney Griner to have her coming out party.

Griner, with her high sports profile, NCAA championship ring and more awards than she can fit in a trophy case, seemed poised to take on the WNBA next season. 

However, the Baylor shot-blocking fiend chose a potential repeat at Waco rather than a life of C.R.E.A.M. and endorsement deals in the WNBA.

Griner’s loss is Ogwumike’s gain then, right?

A number one pick, though, carries the weight of a franchise’s fortunes on her shoulders. Live up to the bill and reap the rewards or fail to me expectations and crumble like a cookie.

Lets consider the last four No. 1 selections in the WNBA Draft: Candace Parker, Angel McCoughtry, Tina Charles and Maya Moore.  Every player in that group went on to win Rookie of the Year awards and two have already played in a WNBA Finals.

What a list. Boy, Ogwumike has her work cut out for her.

That’s why the Stanford product needs tempered expectations in Los Angeles next season.

One of the league’s most storied franchises, the Sparks expect to win early and often in 2012. Parker will be returning from injury, and Ogwumike will join a glut of skilled forwards, including veterans DeLisha Milton-Jones, Ebony Hoffman, and LA’s first round selection, Jantel Lavender. They will join forces with Ogwumike to be the most formidable frontcourt group in the WNBA.

The veterans in Los Angeles should help the potential No. 1 pick’s development, but Ogwumike's shortage of minutes will hurt her chance to live up to her status.

It’s a tough road ahead for Nnemkadi Ogwumike. The No. 1 selection will prove to be her curse.

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