Since being drafted No. 5 overall by the Dallas Wings in 2019,
no player has scored more points in the WNBA than Arike Ogunbowale
(1,958). Kelsey Mitchell, a ridiculous bucket-getter for the
Indiana Fever, ranks second in that time frame (1,727) — a
231-point gap despite playing four more games than Ogunbowale.
At her best, Ogunbowale is a terror for defenses. She's one of
the quickest guards in the league, equipped with a shifty handle
and a quick trigger that she can get off whenever she wants. For a
prime example, look no further than her 37-point effort against the
Phoenix Mercury earlier this season.
The range of buckets is insane, frankly. Transition drives.
Floaters. Fading jumpers.
But focus on the threes for a bit. Ogunbowale can drill
spot-ups, contested or otherwise. She can flow and pull off
movement. Self-created threes are another night at the office for
Ogunbowale has drilled 219 threes in her young career, only
second to Mitchell (242) during this stretch. That three-point
prowess adds a layer for defenses to think about. She can
absolutely light it up when she gets going.
With the initiative, Ogunbowale and Red Bull are donating up to
$50,000 to the Dallas Park and Recreation Department to go toward
solar-powered lighting systems in Dallas. With every three-pointer
Ogunbowale makes this season, $800 will be donated.
To celebrate the launch of the initiative, the Wings star took
shots at a basket designed and built on a temporary court
overlooking the Reunion Tower. Ogunbowale was tasked with knocking
down 10 triples, each one turning on a light until the tower was
Ogunbowale recently spoke with BasketballNews.com to talk about
the event, the initiative and her season to this point. (This
interview has been lightly edited for clarity.)
I've only seen the social clip of the event, so I need
honesty — did you go 10-for-10 on those threes to turn on the
Reunion Tower lights?
Arike Ogunbowale: "I did not (laughs). I wish,
but it was a lot. The depth perception — like, I'm looking at the
freeway in the back. We were outside, so there was wind. The court
was a little slanted, but we made it work. It looked good though!
That's all that matters."
What was the inspiration behind the "Dallas Has Wiiings"
Ogunbowale: "I just wanted to do something for
the community so I'm able to give back. My Dallas fans come from
all over to watch me. They come to the games every night, support
me on social media — all of that. I see all of that, so I wanted to
find a way to support the community."
Where did this interest originally come from? Was court
lighting an issue during your childhood?
Ogunbowale: "Yeah. Growing up, you play outside
a lot. Well, I don't know about kids nowadays; now they're in the
house on their iPads. But I used to be outside a lot
with all the kids in my neighborhood, playing sports or just doing
"But the lights would go out, or there wouldn't be any lights.
Or the street lights would come on and it'd be time to go inside.
So we want there to be places that kids can play after-hours, where
it's still safe and they're able to play the sports they love."
What has the response been from the Wings organization?
Have teammates offered to help moving forard?
Ogunbowale: "Well, this specific event was a
one-time thing. The only way they can help now is by passing me the
ball so I can shoot more threes and donate some money (laughs). But
overall, they think this initiative is a great idea. They've
definitely supported me, and they'll keep feeding me,
If you're able to share, what's next for you in this
Ogunbowale: "It shifts to the regular season
for me, now. Every three-pointer I make, [Red Bull] donates money
up to $50,000. So, the work I have to put in right now is knocking
down threes so we can get to the $50K mark and donate all that
money. At the end of the season, we'll see the courts and pinpoint
what we want to do next. I'll make some visits in the offseason to
see how and where everything's going. But right now, my job is to
While we're on the subject of threes, you've never
bombed away quite like this! You're second in The W in threes
attempted (8.1) and fourth in makes (2.6) per game. Your
three-point rate (percentage of total shots coming from three) is
the highest of your career. Where is the bump coming
Ogunbowale: "I would say it starts with me
practicing more threes over the offseason, and getting more
comfortable with them. Some of it is dictated by defenses. They're
packing the paint a lot, a lot of help-side — stuff like that.
"(I) wouldn't say it's settling — well, sometimes it's a settle
— but those shots are open and available for me. I've been shooting
them decently, though obviously I can get a lot better. But I think
[the rise in three-point attempts] is a mix of that and our team's
Has head coach Vickie Johnson had to pull you aside and
say something like, "Hey, we don't need this three"
or do you have a total green light?
Ogunbowale: "She definitely coaches you! There
are, obviously, shots that I shouldn't take sometimes. Just in the
flow of the game, one or two shots where it's clear, 'That was a
bad shot.' But it's never been, 'I don't want you to shoot threes.'
She never discourages that. She knows that I'm going to try to make
the best decision I can. But if it's a bad shot, it's a bad shot;
it's not limited to threes."
On the flip side, roughly 10% of your shots are coming
inside of 3 feet, and you haven't gotten to the free-throw line as
much (career-low free throw rate) to start the season. How do you
balance pulling up from deep or taking what the defense gives you,
and putting pressure on the rim and getting to the
Ogunbowale: "I think I need to be a little more
aggressive. Having the defense on its heels more, driving to the
basket. I get a lot of eyes when I drive to the basket — like I
said, I get a lot of help-side. But I have to learn how to navigate
through that and figure out how to get to the line more. They're
free shots! I definitely have to be more aggressive and get into
the paint; I think 10% [of my shots coming at the rim] is too
When we talked in 2020, you mentioned
wanting to become more of a threat off the ball. With that in mind,
how much have you enjoyed playing alongside *this* version of
Ogunbowale: "She's been
amazing. Her at the 1 is lethal; she can shoot it
(career-high 42.6% from three on 4.9 attempts), so defenses have to
respect that. That spreads the floor out more. They double her a
lot too — trapping her to get the ball out of her hands. Playing
with a playmaker and scorer like that is definitely fun."
I'm still trying to get a feel for the Wings. Sometimes
you're a bigger group, while other times you'll downsize and have
someone like Satou Sabally start at the 5. What would you
say is the vision of this team?
Ogunbowale: "I would just say 'positionless.'
We'll just go out with the best five players on the court, whether
that includes a smaller post player, or a smaller forward or a
bigger guard. Whatever it is, whatever fits, that's what we're
going to go with.
"I don't think we've been stuck on roles — like you have to have
a 5, you have to have a 4, you have to have a 3, a 2, a 1. Because
really, Marina is a combo guard running the 1. And KT (Kayla
Thornton) is really a 3 playing the 4. So really, it's whatever
fits or helps our team win."
Looking to go to the hottest concerts, sports, theater &
family shows near you? Get 100% guaranteed tickets to more than
125,000 live events from TicketSmarter, the official ticket
marketplace of BasketballNews.com. Order online now!