"When I heard the news about Tina, obviously I was a little surprised," Chiney said. "But I trust in the coaches, I trust in the management, and at the end of the day, whoever is between the lines is going to go in there and compete, and I'm going to be one of those people."
Oguwmike will be joined in Connecticut by fellow rookies Thomas, the No. 4 pick, and guard Chelsea Gray of Duke, the No. 11 pick. (Sun coach Anne Donovan said afterward that the franchise authorized the Liberty to select Thomas on Connecticut's behalf.) "I have complete faith in this program and the type of players they're bringing in, and we're going to be ready to compete," Thomas said after being selected just after Baylor guard Odyssey Sims (No. 2 to the Tulsa Shock) and Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride (No. 3 to the San Antonio Stars).
On Monday night, fans filled the stands near the stage for the first time in WNBA draft history. They were mostly Sun fans, as the event was held in the team's home arena. And when those in attendance heard Richie call Chiney's name as the No. 1 overall pick, they exploded in cheers. "I don't know what I was feeling in that moment because I was in a state of euphoria," Chiney said. "I feel like it was destiny. I worked really hard to get to where I am, and I know I have so much more work to go, but to be picked No. 1 in front of the Connecticut fans, with my family, with my sister, alongside my sister -- unreal."
Although Chiney and Nneka will now be an entire country apart -- on opposite coasts -- the younger sibling said that shouldn't be a problem, that the family is used to connecting over distance. "I come from an international family and, honestly, if I don't call Nneka within a day, she will blow up my phone," Chiney said. "I don't have a choice; we will stay in touch."
Everything came full circle for the Oguwmike family on Monday night.
And the scary thing?
There are two younger Oguwmike siblings -- Erica and Olivia -- who also play hoops.