Parker first woman to make decision on national TV


Candace Parker, the reigning national high school women's basketball player of the year, orally committed to play for Tennessee on Tuesday during a live segment on ESPNEWS.

Parker, a 6-foot-3 forward from Chicago who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in July, will join the Lady Vols next fall as a freshman. She became the first female to announce her decision on live national television.

The official letter-of-intent early signing period opens Wednesday and runs through Nov. 19.

Parker, touted as just the second high school girl to ever dunk, also visited Duke, Texas, Maryland and DePaul.

"Tennessee has a great program," Parker said. " I got along great with the people there. Knoxville is a great town."

Five other highly touted prospects are expected to join Parker in Tennessee's recruiting class, including Alexis Hornbuckle of Charleston, W.Va., and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood of Lawndale, Calif., according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

The All-Star Girls Report ranks Hornbuckle as the No. 1 recruiting prospect, with Parker No. 5 and Wiley-Gatewood No. 6. In the Blue Star Report, Parker was No. 1, followed by Wiley-Gatewood (No. 2) and Hornbuckle (No. 4).

Parker, who has been rehabbing her knee since surgery earlier this fall, and LeBron James were named the 2003 Naismith prep basketball players of the year. Parker, the only high-school junior ever to win the award, also earned national player of the year accolades from Gatorade and USA Today.

As a junior at Central High School in Naperville, Ill., in the 2002-03 season, Parker's team went 35-0 to win the program's first Illinois Class AA state championship. She averaged 24.2 points, 14.2 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game, and set an Illinois state record for most points in a championship game (32) and in the state tournament (92).

On television Tuesday, Parker said her knee is fine, though she will miss part of her senior season of high school basketball. When asked if she can still dunk, Parker said, "We'll see."

ESPN analyst Nell Fortner likened Parker to some of the game's greatest players.

"She's three or four different players all wrapped into one ... very much like a Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings," Fortner said. "She has the ability to do so many things with the basketball. She can play all five positions. It will be interesting to see where she'll play in college."

Parker told Fortner she hopes to play wing for the Lady Vols.

"I've been really working on shooting," Parker said. "I know I need to get quicker when I come back (from knee injury)."