Arike Agunbowale one-on-one with Joshua Short
Hitting a game-winning shot in the NCAA tournament is not really that rare. Although hitting one is special, hitting two, in back-to-back games – one of which for a national championship – is unreal.
But unreal was reality for Arike Agunbowale during the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, when she hit a buzzer-beater in both the Final Four and NCAA championship game.
Since, she’s become an overnight sensation.
“I mean it’s just been crazy,” Ogunbowale responded to the question of how her life’s changed.
“A lot of people have been recognizing me, trying to take pictures everywhere I go, asking for autographs, so it’s pretty cool.”
Ogunbowale was featured on national morning shows including NBC’s The Today Show and most recently, ABC’s Good Morning America as it was announced she’d be one of ten athletes competing on Dancing With the Stars: Athletes.
But the buck hasn’t stopped at morning news programs. She was also featured on The Ellen Show, where she met one of her many basketball inspirations, five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant.
“But I think it’s good for basketball in general that so many people were talking about it,” said Ogunbowale regarding the media frenzy.
“They’re going to bring more attention to women’s basketball and know that it’s fun to watch and is exciting.”
But there are many other inspirations that have congratulated her since the two biggest shots of her young career.
“J.J. Watt tweeted me, Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant [and] DeMar DeRozan.”
Although she hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she says South Bend has become her home as well.
“I mean it definitely does feel like home," she said. “I’ve been here for three years, ever since I was a freshman, I felt the love coming in, so, I’m just glad we could do it for them.”
Ogunbowale says she’s just happy to contribute to the championship win and says she wouldn’t be where she is now without the support of her team.
“It’s the trophy, I mean, that’s what i came to this school for. Everybody comes to this school to win the national title…that’s the top thing you can get as a college player, so to think that we have that in our possession, that’s just amazing,” she said while looking at the NCAA trophy.
“It was a team effort, I wouldn’t be here without them.”