LOS ANGELES – Tennessee’s Candace Parker won the 2008 Women’s John R. Wooden Award, as the college basketball player of the year, at this evening’s Wooden Award Gala hosted by The Los Angeles Athletic Club at the Los Angeles Downtown Sheraton Hotel. Wooden Award Chairman and longtime fixture in the Los Angeles sports community, Richard J. “Duke” Llewellyn, made the announcement and presented Parker with the unique Wooden Award trophy whose design was inspired by Coach Wooden’s idea of the “total basketball player.”
A 6-4 junior forward, Parker led Tennessee to its second straight national title on Tuesday night, capping off an inspiring performance in the NCAA Tournament, in which she fought through a shoulder injury. In the title game win over Stanford, she had 17 points (her 44th straight double-figure game), 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Parker was the first pick in Wednesday’s WNBA draft; she will play next season for the Los Angeles Sparks after representing the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Also the 2007 Wooden Award winner, Parker averaged 20.6 points and 8.8 rebounds this season to lead her team in both categories. She is a three-time first-team All-SEC choice, the 2006 SEC Freshman of the Year and 2007 SEC Player of the Year.
Balloting by more than 250 members of the media and women’s college basketball experts was conducted through the games of the Sweet 16. Voters selected 5 players for the Wooden All-America team from the 17 student-athletes listed on the ballot, and ranked them from 1 to 10. Voters were asked to take into account performance during the regular season and postseason, as well as a player’s character and academic performance. All players on the ballot were certified as maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA at their current school, including the most recent semester.
Parker received 274 points to win the Award. The other four finalists were Connecticut’s Maya Moore (144 points), Sylvia Fowles of LSU (134 points), Candice Wiggins of Stanford (121 points) and Courtney Paris of Oklahoma (79 points). In addition to the Player of the Year Award, The Los Angeles Athletic Club also presented Tennessee Women’s Head Coach Pat Summitt with the John R. Wooden Award Legends of Coaching honor. Summitt’s Lady Vols won their eighth NCAA title last weekend.
Parker is the second two-time winner, following LSU’s Seimone Augustus who won the Award in 2005 and 2006. The men’s winner will be announced later this evening.