Candace Parker, 30-year-old. WNBA player for the Los Angeles Sparks. Stands at 6 feet 4 inches. Parker has been a present player for the Sparks since 2008.
Parker played ball in high school at Naperville Central High School. Parker led her high school team to class AA state titles in 2003 and 2004. Her high school record was 2,768 points ( 22.9 points per game) starting 119 of the 121 games that she played. Although Parker had been star player her whole 4 years in high school, August of 2004, while training for the USA Junior World Championship, Parker had a relapse of knee pain and immediately had to undergo surgery both lateral meniscus and lateral articular cartilage in her left knee. But, that didn’t strop Parker from going.
She started her freshman of college at University of Tennessee in 2004. The first season, February 17, 2005, Tennessee announced that Parker would “Red shirt” because of her knee injury. The NCAA tournament first round game against Army came around on March 19, 2006. Parker became the first woman to dunk twice in an NCAA tournament game.
January of 2008 in an away game against Alabama, Parker scored her 1,000th career point as a sophomore at the University of Tennessee. That particular game made her the fastest player in Lady Vol history. March 1st of 2007, Parker was named the 2007 SEC player of the year. April 3rd, she led the team to their first National Championship since 1998, 59-46, she finished that game with 17 point and earned Most Outstanding Player honor.
While at Tennessee, Parker compiled a record of 100 wins and 10 losses and averaged 19,4 points, 8.8 rebounds. 2.6 assists, 19 steals and 2.4 blocks per game. Parker announced on February 21, 2008, that she would forgo her final season of eligibility at Tennessee in order to focus on the 2008 Olympics and pursue a professional career in basketball. Parker graduated with her coming class in May of 2008.
Just after the NCAA victory, Parker was selected as the first pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks on April 9, 2008. She played alongside Olympic teammates Lisa Leslie and DeLisha Milton-Jones. Shannon Bobbitt, Parker’s teammate at Tennessee, joined the Sparks after being drafted in the second round.
On May 17, 2008, in her debut game against the Phoenix Mercury, she scored 34 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. Her 34 points broke the record for a rookie in a debut game. The record was previously held by Cynthia Cooper, who scored 25 points in her debut game in 1997.
On June 22, 2008, she became the second woman in WNBA history—after her teammate Lisa Leslie—to dunk during a regulation WNBA game against the Indiana Fever The dunk was on the same basket as the dunk of Lisa Leslie. On June 24, 2008, she became the first player to dunk twice in their WNBA career, during a regulation game against the Seattle Storm.
Parker missed the first eight games of the 2009 WNBA season after giving birth to daughter, Lailaa Williams. On June 30, Parker returned to practice with her teammates for the first time. She played her first game back from maternity leave on July 5, 2009. Parker was named to the All-WNBA second team and All-Defensive second team despite missing almost a full month, due to her maternity leave. She led the Sparks to the Western Conference Finals but lost in game three to the Phoenix Mercury. In the playoffs, Parker averaged 18 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
In 2010, Parker missed most of the 2010 WNBA season due to a shoulder injury. In 2011, Parker played her first six games. During the seventh game, with 5:56 left in the third quarter, Parker went down after grabbing a defensive rebound and making brief contact with Quanitra Hollingsworth. After getting an MRI on June 27, she found out she had a torn meniscus in her right knee. Six weeks later, she returned and played the remainder of the season.
On July 27, 2013, in her sixth season, Parker played in her first All-Star game. She scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a come from behind win for the West and was named WNBA All-Star MVP. The Sparks finished with the same record (24-10) as the year earlier, again earning the second seed in the Western Conference.
In the 2016 season, Parker averaged 15.3 points per game, becoming the team’s second option next to Nneka Ogwumike who led the team in scoring and won the MVP award. With a supporting cast of Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, the Sparks were a championship contender in the league, finishing 26-8. In game five of the series, Parker scored a game-high 28 points along with 12 rebounds. Also in 2016, Parker was named in the WNBA Top 20@20, a list of the league’s best 20 players ever in celebration of the WNBA’s twentieth anniversary.