Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tennessee's Parker wins Wade Award

CLEVELAND -- She's the only woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game, and on the eve of the Final Four, Candace Parker again rose above the crowd.

A redshirt sophomore standout from Tennessee, Parker on Saturday won the Wade Trophy, which is symbolic of the best Division I women's player in the country.

Parker became only the second player in the Lady Vols' storied history - joining Daedra Charles in 1991 - to win the award, somewhat startling since Tennessee has advanced to the Final Four 17 times and is the only school to compete in each NCAA Tournament since its inception in 1982.

"It's a huge honor," Parker said. "I wasn't expecting it at all."

Her numbers say otherwise. The 6-4 Parker averaged 19.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in leading the Lady Vols to a 32-3 record and the championship of the Dayton Regional.

"She's a difference-maker," legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

Parker showcased her brilliant skills in the Dayton Regional title game, scoring 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals in just 25 minutes in leading the Lady Vols to a 98-62 victory over Mississippi.

"That was by far the hardest she's worked at both ends of the floor," Summitt said. "But I think that's because she really wanted to be here in Cleveland."

Tennessee will play North Carolina in the second national semifinal Sunday night.

Parker, who was also named to the Kodak All-America team on Saturday for the second straight season, said all her focus is on the upcoming game.

"That's all put aside now because we have a goal that we came here to the Final Four to accomplish," Parker said. "So that's all behind me and hopefully we can go out and on Sunday and take care of business."

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