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Women’s Basketball: Tennessee to retire Candace Parker’s jersey

West's Candace Parker, of the Los Angeles Sparks and East's Tina Charles, of the Connecticut Sun, right, during the second half of the WNBA All-Star basketball game in Uncasville, Conn., Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) ORG XMIT: OTKJH104
West's Candace Parker, of the Los Angeles Sparks and East's Tina Charles, of the Connecticut Sun, right, during the second half of the WNBA All-Star basketball game in Uncasville, Conn., Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) ORG XMIT: OTKJH104

Naperville Central graduate Candace Parker has a laundry list of accolades for her basketball career. The University of Tennessee is adding another monumental one.

The Vols’ athletic department recently announced that the school will retire Parker’s No. 3 jersey. A two-time All-American, her banner will be the sixth in Tennessee history, joining Holly Warlick (No. 22), Chamique Holdsclaw (No. 23), Tamika Catchings (No. 24), Bridgette Gordon (No. 30) and Daedra Charles (No. 32).

Pat Summitt, Tennessee’s head coach emeritus, had a banner raised in her honor on Jan. 28.

Parker led the Vols to consecutive national championships in 2007 and 2008 and ranks third on the school’s carer scoring list with 2,137 points in only three seasons. She averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds. She is the career and single-season record holder in free throws made and blocked shots.

A three-time college All-American and All-SEC player who won SEC Player of the Year honors in 2007 and SEC Female Athlete of the Year honors in 2008, Parker won the following national awards at Tennessee:

John R. Wooden Player of the Year (2007, 2008).

Naismith Player of the Year (2008).

Associated Press Player of the Year (2008).

Honda-Broderick Cup Athlete of the Year (2008).

State Farm Wade Trophy (2007).

USA Basketball Writers Player of the Year (2007, 2008).

She also was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in the Vols’ back-to-back national title seasons of 2007 and 2008.

“It is a very well-deserved honor for Candace,” said Warlick, who is now the Vols’ head coach. “She has been a great ambassador for the (Tennessee) basketball program and for women’s basketball as a whole as both a WNBA player and a member of the U.S. Olympic Team.

“We’re pleased to see Candace recognized in this way. She was highly regarded coming out of high school and helped us carry on our tradition, and she ended her career as one of the most decorated players in school history.”

At Naperville Central, Parker was a city, state and national sensation. She was a two-time USA Today National Player of the Year and a two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2003-04.

In her high school career, the Redhawks posted a 95-4 record and won a pair of Class AA state championships.

Parker finished with 2,768 points and 1,592 rebounds, both school records.

Then, as a senior at Tennessee, Parker produced an average of 21.3 points and 8.8 rebounds as the Vols won the NCAA title. She went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks and won the leagues MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in her first season ­— the first to accomplish that feat.

Before beginning her pro career, however, Parker helped the U.S. Olympic Team bring home the 2008 gold medal. She was a key player again in 2012 as the U.S repeated as champions.

A Naperville native, Parker continues to star in the WNBA for the Sparks and also played overseas this past winter in Russia.

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