Sports Outside the Beltway

Candace Parker First Woman to Dunk in NCAA Tourney

AP reports on some history being made Sunday in the NCAA women’s tournament.

Candace Parker is a redshirt freshman for Tennessee who can play every position and distribute the ball as easily as she scores. Oh yeah, she dunks, too.

The 6-foot-4 Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game Sunday, jamming one-handed on a breakaway just 6:12 into the second-seeded Lady Vols’ 102-54 victory against an Army team that was making its NCAA Tournament debut. Then, for good measure, Parker ensured her place in basketball lore by becoming the first to do it twice in a college game with another one-hander on the baseline. She finished with 26 points in 26 minutes, and added five rebounds, a career-high seven assists, four blocks, two steals — and the feeling of an obstacle cleared.

“It’s a relief to finally do it and get it over with and be done with it,” said Parker, who’s been peppered with questions from fans and even her teammates about when she would finally throw one down in a game.

Parker also made history two years ago as the first woman to win the McDonald’s Slam Dunk contest.

Photo: Candace Parker wins McDonald's Slam Dunk contest There are moments, stunning indelible moments, that transcend sport, crumble barriers and create icons. There’s Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome in 1973. Brandi Chastain clinching the Women’s World Cup in 1999. Annika Sorenstam teeing off at the Colonial last May.

On Monday night, in a cozy high school gymnasium southeast of Oklahoma City, a 17-year-old high school senior named Candace Parker turned in the latest moment. Parker beat out five male competitors to win the Slam Dunk contest of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game. She won with aplomb, too, darting down the left side of the lane, covering her eyes with her left arm and flushing home a right-handed dunk. At 9:06 p.m. CT, Parker sparked a raucous ovation, chest bumps from her teammates and officially launched herself as the female answer to LeBron James.

Parker, who will play for Tennessee next season, stands just a shade under 6-feet-4 and can play all five positions on the floor. The first two-time winner of the Naismith National Player of the Year award, Parker already was billed as the most ballyhooed women’s high school athlete ever. That’s before she joined James, Carmelo Anthony and Vince Carter on the list of McDonald’s Dunk Contest winners. “I’m not surprised, she really plays at the rim,” Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt said Tuesday afternoon after learning of Parker’s winning performance. “Obviously, Candace is a very special player. She’s going to be good for the women’s game. She’s the kind of individual who has a lot of charisma and personality.”

Yes, Parker’s performance suggests she could usher women’s college basketball further into the mainstream with the sport’s sexiest play — the dunk. Only five dunks have been recorded during a women’s college game, three by Tennessee’s Michelle Snow. There has been only one in the WNBA, a Lisa Leslie flush in 2002. “That would be my dream,” Parker said. “For 10 years from now for three or four girls entering the dunk contest and it’s not a big deal.”

We might get there. Whether we’ll get to the point where the woman won’t have a huge edge just because of the novelty factor is another question.

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Candance Parker is awsome no matter what anyone says. I would love to get a chance to play for the Lady Vols. That is my dream, hopefully it doesn’t change cause I’m only 13. I play basketball everyday. I’ve played on a team for 6 years.I just started middle school basketball. It’s going good. Candace Parker is my idol!!!

Posted by Olyvia | March 29, 2006 | 04:31 pm | Permalink

Hey Candance is the coolest ever it was amazing to see her dunk like she does just keep it up Candance

Posted by Karneshia Garrett | February 1, 2007 | 10:48 am | Permalink

OMG you are amanzing. I want to play just like you. I hope to lay for the LAdy Vols too. I am a freshmen at Morristown High School in Morristown New Jersey and I made JV as a Freshmen. Good Luck. Hope you go to the WNBA

Posted by Nikiyah | April 4, 2007 | 08:20 am | Permalink

i love basketball-i always wanted to see a girl dunk-does it hurt…..that could be your signature in the wnba-can you alleyoop!

Posted by quencee | April 10, 2007 | 04:13 pm | Permalink

Hey, Candance I enjoy watching you play basketball. You are my favorite player in college. It is a privilage to watch you play. Your dunks is awsome. I will loved to know how to dunk but hopefully one day I will. I played basketball all my life. Now I am on my way to college to play. I hope you succeed in what ever you do

Posted by Renae Thomas | April 17, 2007 | 10:50 am | Permalink

Hey Candace! You are the best player ever! I love to watch you play. I am 12 and I m in the seventh grade! I play basketball everyday and I will be starting AAU soon! I want to be as good and better as you are. I truly look up to you as my basketball hero! Thanks so much for ballin! I can’t wait to see another dunk next season!

Posted by Brianna | April 18, 2007 | 04:45 pm | Permalink

hey candance u r the most amazing player ive ever seen u make basketball look fun and i hope one day i can b as good as u im a freshmen in highschool and i played freshmen and jv but m season wasnt so good bc i had 2 learn everything in 4months and only scored 4points whole season everytime i c u play iget pumped up ready 2 play but i just want u 2 no how much u and ur skills encourge me 2 keep tryin
d.smith #3 lady chargers

Posted by danitria smith | April 22, 2007 | 11:17 am | Permalink

CP I really like to watch you and the Lady Vols play. Me and my b-ball friends are one of your biggest fans. We hope that one day we could play for the Lady Vols when we get older. And be a great player like you.

Posted by Felecia | April 29, 2007 | 09:26 pm | Permalink

I Love U and i want ur jersey….u are the best player ever!!!!!

Posted by katrina | June 11, 2007 | 07:46 pm | Permalink

i really love candance parker she`s my IDOL i really want to play like her some day!!

Posted by soyia | October 4, 2007 | 10:45 am | Permalink

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