Arike Ogunbowale, a guard for the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team, has become the it-girl in sports thanks to her two game-winning baskets in the Final Four and championship games during this year’s NCAA women’s tournament. Ogunbowale’s dazzling performances received praised from stars like Gabrielle Union, Ice Cube and even her basketball idol Kobe Bryant. Now she continues to blaze a trail as the first NCAA player and the first female basketball player ever to appear on “Dancing With the Stars.” Will she rise to the occasion and deliver another game-winning moment? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
Ogunbowale has the advantage of being the most recent athlete to gain nationwide attention among the “DWTS” contestants this year. As mentioned above, her spectacular athleticism has helped her gain her a fan base even among other athletes and celebrities, which in turn could help her gain support on “DWTS.”
Being an underdog and rising to the challenge is another strength that will help Ogunbowale in the ballroom. Before becoming a breakout star in women’s college basketball she started her freshman season at Notre Dame as a reserve player before becoming a regular starter the following year and then a national champion in her junior year. With this display of determination and hard work, she has shown that she’s not someone to write off so easily.
The biggest hurdle for Ogunbowale is going to be the rules placed on her by the NCAA. Per their regulations, Ogunbowale is not allowed to appear in promotional materials for the show, including commercials, talk shows, etc. Without the outside promotion, this could severely limit her and her partner Gleb Savchenko in their pursuit of fan votes, putting them at a huge disadvantage.
Basketball players aren’t known to be the most graceful dancers, perhaps due to their height and builds. As a result they haven’t had the best luck on “DWTS.” Rick Fox was the highest-placing basketball star, landing in 6th place in season 11. But with Ogunbowale being the first female basketball player to compete on the show, maybe she’ll be able to break this curse.
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