NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ask Stanford senior forward Chiney Ogwumike a question about anything, and she could probably riff on it.
On the "N-E-R-D" video, a project the Stanford star spearheaded which has 46,000 YouTube views:
"We made one two years ago, Nerd City, and last year I was kind of focusing on [the fact that her older sister] Nneka [graduated] and there was a huge power vacuum on our team and I was focusing on putting myself in a good position to play well and be a leader for our team. So I was like OK, no crazy music video. But this year, I'm like YOLO, I'm a senior, have to go out with a bang. The song is completely original. Just celebrating the culture of Stanford. It's not just Stanford. Anybody that studies hard, respects academics, respects athletics."
On potentially getting picked No. 1 by the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA draft on April 14: "You know I don't like jumping the gun or anything, but you know what, one thing I know about Connecticut is that they're huge women's basketball fans. I'm a people person. I think that organization is great. The players on the team are great. The fans. I feel like a place like that, I would thrive. But I just feel glad that I have another opportunity to play [Sunday] and hopefully more opportunities to continue playing, and if it happens to be in Connecticut, I'll be a happy girl."
On her dream job: "You know what my dream job is? I want to work at Harpo Studies. I like Oprah. That would be my dream job."
But first, Stanford, led by Ogwumike's 26 points and 12.1 rebounds per game, will face UConn in the national semifinals Sunday at Bridgestone Arena at approximately 9 p.m.
"She has this tremendous sense of energy about her," Stanford associate head coach Amy Tucker said. "No matter what she does … if it's on the athletic side of campus … I call her the mayor of Stanford, because she's equally as powerful on the academic side of campus. Everyone loves her. She cannot walk across our campus without people stopping to talk to her, stopping her for autographs.
"She sets the tone for the culture of your program. In terms of how she does things, the way she works, the way she leads, how she talks. She buys into the whole bottom line of 'This is how we do things' and then she gets everybody else on board with her."
Senior forward Mikaela Ruef talked about going to a homeless shelter and serving food to the people there and how the team was a little uncomfortable at first.
"I was just sticking with Chiney because she's really good at talking to people," Ruef said. "She was serving up food and being really friendly with everybody and they were like, 'Can I take a picture with you?' She's like, 'Definitely! Enjoy the food!' It was a joy to watch.
"She's going to rule the world some day. Chiney for President."
Ogwumike has a 3.46 GPA. Her adviser is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (now a Stanford professor). She spent time in Nigeria, where her parents grew up, last spring as part of her major. On Saturday, she was named to the WBCA All-America team for the second time.
Her take on that: "As players, we work so hard and you know your coaches keep you grounded, they never want to say, 'You're amazing. You're amazing.'"
She started clapping for herself and laughed.
"Yeah, because Coach Tara [VanDerveer], she definitely is making sure I know what I have to work on."
Ogwumike's outgoing personality, Ruef said, will be a benefit for the women's game wherever she ends up.
"It can help bring publicity to the game and make it more popular," she said. "She's such a likable person and she's such an advocate of the sport."
Not to mention her play. Through April 1, Ogwumike was ranked in the top 10 in the country in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage (60.4), and double-doubles (26). She's the Pac-12's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. She's the fifth player in Stanford history to have more than 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
And yet ...
"She has a tremendous ability to improve," Tucker said. "I don't think she's reached her top potential. She'll be a great pro. She'll learn, she'll get better, she'll do whatever it takes to play at the next level. She's the whole package."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun