Canada's Natalie Achonwa drives ball against FranceMark Blinch/COC)
Mark Blinch/COC)

Natalie Achonwa


Natalie Achonwa made history in 2009 when she became the youngest player ever selected to the Canadian Senior National Team. She has since been named to four Olympic teams and has competed in three FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cups, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in 2022 for Canada’s best result in the tournament since 1986. 

Achonwa was the youngest member of the Canadian women’s basketball team in her Olympic debut at London 2012 as she helped Canada reach the quarterfinals for the first time since Los Angeles 1984. Achonwa and the team made it to the quarterfinals again at Rio 2016 before a ninth-place finish at Tokyo 2020. Achonwa had been named to the All-Star Five at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Tokyo 2020.

In 2015, Achonwa won a pair of historic gold medals with Canada. First, they defeated the United States at the Pan American Games in Toronto where Achonwa scored 13 points in the final for Canada’s first ever gold medal in women’s basketball at the Pan Am Games. That was quickly followed by a victory over Cuba in the AmeriCup final, securing Canada’s first title at the tournament in 20 years.

Achonwa made her international debut at the 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championships where she was Canada’s youngest player selected at age 15 and helped win the silver medal. In 2009 she was part of Canada’s then-best-ever fourth-place finish at the FIBA U19 World Cup. 

In starting her collegiate career at Notre Dame, Achonwa became the first international player for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball team. As a senior she was named team captain and was selected to the All-American Third Team and All-ACC Second and All-Academic Teams. Also a First Team Big East selection and All-American honourable mention as a junior in 2013, and a Big East All-Freshman Team pick in 2011.

Achonwa’s final year at Notre Dame was cut short by a torn left ACL, suffered during a game against Baylor in the Elite Eight of the 2014 Women’s NCAA Tournament. That caused her to miss a trip to the Final Four (where the Irish lost the championship game) as well as the 2014 FIBA World Cup and her entire first season of WNBA action.      

Drafted 9th overall by Indiana at the 2014 WNBA draft, she was named to the All-Rookie Team in 2015, reaching the WNBA Finals. She played with the Fever until 2020, signing with Minnesota in the 2021 offseason. She has also played professionally overseas in Italy, Korea, China, and France.

A Little More About Natalie

Getting into the Sport: Started playing basketball at age 11… After a growth spurt her travel soccer coach invited her to try out for the basketball team he also coached… Outside Interests: Graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2014 (Management Consulting)… Enjoys travelling in her spare time… Selected to play on Drake’s All-Star Celebrity Team at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto; unable to play due to knee injury but helped coach Team Canada… Odds and Ends: Favourite quote: “God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.” – Reggie White… Nicknames: Nat, Ace… Proud mom to son Maverick who was born in April 2023…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
London 2012BasketballWomen8
Rio 2016BasketballWomen7
Tokyo 2020BasketballWomen9

Notable International Results

Olympic Games: 2020 - 9th; 2016 - 7th; 2012 - 8th

Pan American Games: 2015 - GOLD 

FIBA World Cup:  2022 - 4th; 2018 - 7th; 2010 - 12th

FIBA World Championship (U19): 2009 - 4th

FIBA AmeriCup: 2015 - GOLD; 2013 - SILVER, 2011 - BRONZE; 2009 - BRONZE

FIBA Americas Championship (U18): 2008 - SILVER