Addition by subtraction for top recruit
She won three state titles with her club team and had packs of Division I coaches nipping at her heels. Her coach, a 25-year veteran, said she was the best player he's ever directed.
But Arike Ogunbowale decided this summer to give it all up.
"I was super-sad [when I made the decision]," said Ogunbowale, who will be a junior this fall at Divine Savior Holy Angels (Milwaukee). "I played with the same group of girls since 2006, and this would have been our last [club] season together."
Problem was, Ogunbowale, a 5-foot-9 guard and the undeclared No. 19 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Terrific 25 for the 2015 class, simply wasn't as good at soccer as she is at basketball.
"Soccer lost a good athlete," said Rob Lestina, who coached Ogunbowale with the Shockers FC of Wisconsin. "She was a part-time soccer player -- never even played in high school. Yet by two weeks into the club season, she was one of the best players on the field.
"I think she enjoys basketball more. ... She's better at basketball, too. It just came down to the fact that every minute she was playing soccer was a minute in which she wasn't playing basketball."
Ogunbowale's father, Gregory, is from Nigeria, where he played soccer and rugby. He is now a high school principal.
Her mother, Yolanda, is an American-born teacher who was a softball pitcher at DePaul University.
They named their third and youngest child Arike, which in Nigeria means "something that you see and you cherish."
Ogunbowale has two older brothers: Mario, 25, and Dare, a redshirt freshman defensive back at the University of Wisconsin who is studying biomedical engineering.
To say education is important in this family is an understatement. Ogunbowale has a 3.5 GPA, and her favorite subject is math.
"It sounds nerdy," she said, "but I like figuring out long problems."
Coaches across Wisconsin have been struggling to solve the long problem of Ogunbowale plus basketball the past two seasons.
As a sophomore, she averaged 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.1 steals per game, setting single-season school records for points and rebounds. The consistency in her scoring was noteworthy. She never scored more than 28 points, and she had 20 outings in which she had at least 19. In the five games that she had less than 19, DSHA won by an average of 33 points.
She was named The Associated Press and Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year as a sophomore after being the first freshman to win the Greater Metro Conference Player of the Year award.
Scott Witt, coach of the DSHA Dashers basketball team, said Ogunbowale already is the best player in school history "by a wide margin."
Still, there's one big void on her high school basketball résumé: a state title.
This past March, DSHA (21-4) was eliminated in the sectional semifinals 64-59 by eventual Division I champ Milwaukee Riverside.
Ogunbowale, who scored 25 points in that loss, said winning state is a major goal, especially since she has already won almost every individual award possible in Wisconsin as well as a national AAU title in 2011 with her club team, Playground Elite.
Another thing that has eluded her is being named team captain.
"It excites me," Ogunbowale said of the possibility of earning that distinction. "I want to lead the team."
Ogunbowale said she learned a lot about leadership during her run last month with Team USA, which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-16 Championships in Cancun, Mexico.
"I learned that there always has to be a leader on the court," said Ogunbowale, who finished as Team USA's fourth-leading scorer (10.0 points) during its 5-0 run. "I want to be that leader."
Witt wants her to earn that captaincy.
"I don't know how much better she can get offensively," Witt said. "Her primary improvements will be on the mental side.
"Don't get me wrong -- she is mentally strong. But with maturity comes not getting too high or too low, whether it's a bad call or a missed layup. You have to put that immediately behind you. That will be a point of emphasis this season because if she continues with her rate of improvement, she will go down as one of the all-time greats in Wisconsin history."
Witt would love for Ogunbowale to improve her left hand, but that's nitpicking. The fact is that Ogunbowale can post up or shoot 3's. Her versatility and feel for the game are her best assets, Witt said, and she will make you regret double-teaming her because she is such a skilled and willing passer.
"She will pick you apart," Witt said.
She's got the beat
Before games, you can find Ogunbowale with her headphones, listening to artists such as Meek Mill, Lil Wayne and, yes, Justin Bieber.
"She's bobbing her head," said teammate Sami Leach, a 5-8 rising senior guard. "You can tell she's getting into it."
Leach first met Ogunbowale when the latter was preparing to enter her freshman year at DSHA.
"I thought she had a lot of talent -- she played like a boy," Leach said. "I have a brother, and I've watched his games. Arike matched the movement of the boys.
"A lot of girls are hesitant with the ball. But Arike doesn't hesitate. If she wants to put up a shot, she knows exactly where she's going and has a backup plan if that doesn't work."
But Ogunbowale remains unsure of where she's going when it comes to college.
She doesn't have a list of finalists yet, and even though her only unofficial visits have been to Midwest schools such as Wisconsin, Marquette, Michigan, DePaul and Notre Dame, Ogunbowale insists she will not be limited by geography.
Wherever she ends up, Lestina believes she will be great.
"Arike has a charismatic personality," he said. "Her teammates love being around her. She's magnetic."