WNBA BASKETBALL PLAYER
UT Knoxville, ’08
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus’ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Through tears after leading her Los Angeles Sparks to a game five victory over the Minnesota Lynx during the WNBA championship game in October, the tournament’s most valuable player, Candace Parker, told the watching audience, “This is for Pat.”
And she knew her revered coach was with her and proud of her.
“She’s what a Lady Vol should be,” Lady Vol Head Basketball Coach Holly Warlick says of Parker.
Parker came to UT in 2004 from the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois. Her dazzling play racked up numerous SEC and national honors and led the Lady Vols to consecutive national championships in 2007 and 2008. Parker was a three-time All-America and All-SEC selection, SEC Player of the Year, SEC Female Athlete of the Year, two-time John R. Wooden Player of the Year, Naismith Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding in 2007 and 2008.
A groundbreaker, Parker was the first woman to dunk the basketball in an NCAA tournament game, the first woman to dunk twice in a college game and only the second player to dunk in a WNBA game.
After graduating, Parker played on the gold medal-winning USA Olympic teams in 2008 and 2012. Parker was the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, where she won both the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year accolades that season – the first to accomplish that feat.
“Through all of that, Candace has never lost sight of where she’s come from and how hard the road has been to get there. I think she loves this program as much as anyone can,” Warlick says.