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Autumn Johnson | November 20, 2020

Nneka Ogwumike gives Stanford's Cameron Brink surprise advice ahead of first collegiate game

Legends to Rookies: Nneka Ogwumike gives Stanford's Cameron Brink advice ahead of first collegiate game

Not only did NCAA women's basketball come to an abrupt end due to the spread of the coronavirus, many seniors weren't able to fulfill their destinies in the last run of their high school careers. 

That was the case for the No. 3 recruit in the country — Cameron Brink — as she looked to defend the Oregon Class 6A State Final her senior year. Brink will now suit up for her first collegiate game in her next chapter with the Stanford women's basketball team Nov. 25. The Cardinal will match up with the Cal Poly Mustangs at 11 a.m. Pacific in the Stanford Maples Pavilion. 

There's always a learning curve for freshmen embarking on their new journeys. I spoke with Brink — with help from a Stanford legend — to hear about some of the challenges she's experienced this preseason during her transition from high school to the collegiate level. You can see the entire interview in the video above and continue reading for some of the highlights below.

"The pace of the game is much different, everything is faster, everyone is much stronger," Brink said. "It's been a quick adjustment. We've been learning all of our plays really quickly, but our upperclassmen have been helping us so much. While it is challenging in a really weird year, we have a great support system, and it's been great so far." 

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That Stanford legend we brought to the conversation needs little introduction. She's Nneka Ogwumike, the Los Angeles Sparks forward, 2016 WNBA MVP and 2012 Stanford graduate. She gave the 6-foot-4 McDonald's and Jordan Classic All-American advice heading into her first collegiate tip-off. 

"It's important to know how resilIent you guys are," Ogwumike said. "I know how hard it was for me as a freshman in a normal world. I can only imagine the stress that you guys are experiencing, but I think it's important for you to understand that you're there for a reason and you have a family that is there that can support you in your journey. [...] Also, understand that your identity isn't just you playing, but you can become such a better person through what you do on the court  and of course off the court."

Ogwumike led Stanford to four Final Fours. She's familiar with the pressure and expectations that come with joining a high-profile Division I program. Ogwumike emphasized to Brink to try and take that pressure off of herself — which is exactly what Oqwumike would tell "rookie Nneka" coming into her freshmen year in 2008.  

"It's not that serious," says Ogwumike. "I'm very regimented. I think that once you let go of pressure and that now becomes kind of not only expectation, but just like a way of life. You wanting to be great in everything, doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be greatest at everything. You can bring your whole self to everything that you do and if one day that will be 80 percent, you got to bring 100 percent of that 80 percent." 

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Brink is optimistic about the 2020-21 season. She shared her season goals she has set out for her freshman year.

Stanford-Cameron-Brink

"I want to be able to make an impact and help our team win," says Brink. "I want us to win the Pac-12 championship. I think we could win the national championship, but Tara always tells me you're a freshman. You're allowed to make mistakes. Like Nneka said I'm going to try to enjoy this year and not stress too much." 

Stanford's freshman class is currently ranked sixth nationally and also features guards Jana Van Gytenbeek (No. 39) and Agnes Emma-Nnopu. The Cardinal are second in the AP preseason top 25, the program's highest preseason mark since 2009.

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