Los Angeles Sparks All-Star forward Candace Parker is currently on a virtual tour in support of the Capital One Cup, which donates college scholarships each year to deserving schools. She took some time to talk to WomensHoopsWorld and answer questions about this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Sue Favor: Your alma mater Tennessee was seeded seventh, the lowest in school history. What are your thoughts on that and on their side of the bracket?
Candace Parker: Tennessee’s seeding was in the best region for us, as all the teams are those we are capable of beating.
Sue Favor: Who are some seniors who you think have high WNBA draft potential?
Candace Parker: Tiffany Mitchell is a player I have watched, and I played with her as a teammate at the USA basketball trials. She has done a good job of coming back after a foot injury this past summer. It’s amazing what she is able to do; she’s an athletic guard who can do it all. I’m also looking at Imani Boyette.
Sue Favor: Can you explain how the Capital One Cup is impacted by the NCAA Tournament?
Candace Parker: Obviously I’m excited about the Capital One Cup, as they’ve given over $2 million to women’s and men’s programs. The Tournament is a competition where teams are trying to be best men’s and women’s basketball program. A school can really boost themselves this time of year. UConn last year boosted themselves, as did Duke the previous year in men’s basketball. A win is a win for your program.
Sue Favor: How did you feel when Tennessee dropped out of the top 25 last month?
Candace Parker: It’s something you never want to see happen, but it happens. Programs go through ups and downs – you don’t see any program that doesn’t. Tennessee has been at the top for a long time.
Sue Favor: What would you say to those who criticize/blame the Lady Vol coaching staff?
Candace Parker: I don’t have anything to say. Across the board, when you’re on a team, it’s not the fault of any one party: everybody has a fault in it. In the NCAA Tournament in years past, it’s a new season. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the regular season, and just because a team didn’t do what they thought they’d do in the regular season doesn’t mean anything in the postseason. It doesn’t matter now. They’re playing one game at a time.
Sue Favor: You’re turning 30 next month. How do you feel about that?
Candace Parker: I tell people I’m turning 29 for the second time. Honestly, I feel like age is what you feel – only old people say that – but it’s true. Thirty is the new 20. I’m happy where I am in my life.
Sue Favor: It doesn’t seem that long ago that you lead the Lady Vols to a championship and then were drafted into the WNBA. How are you different now than when you were 22?
Candace Parker: This whole journey goes so fast. It’s important to love what you’re doing, to enjoy what you’re doing, live in the moment – just be happy. Lot of people put so much energy into worrying when thing don’t work out way they want it to. I am lucky to play the game I love for a living.
I’m done playing overseas, though I just worked that out this year. This year is was kind of crazy, because I didn’t play with UMMC Ekaterinburg again, and it ended up being the best thing. I could take my daughter to school every day and be with my family. I was able to be with my dog Fendi when she got sick, and I couldn’t imagine being overseas when she passed. Everything happens for a reason.
If I do end up playing overseas, it will be quick little stints like my time in China over the winter.
Sue Favor: Are you excited about the WNBA season? Are you excited about the Olympics?
Candace Parker: I’m really excited about the WNBA and the Olympics. The summer of 2016 is going to be great and really exciting. I started working out and getting used to all the banging and grinding again. It was nice to have an offseason.
Each year the Capital One Cup monitors the top 10 finishes and national championship wins across all NCAA DI sports. They then apply points to these finishes and add them up across the fall, winter and spring athletic seasons (this is done on the men’s side and on the women’s side). At the end of the overall athletic year, the men’s athletic program and the women’s athletic program that received the most points each win the Capital One Cup trophy and $200,000 in student athlete scholarships for their school. The program is in its 6th year and last year (2014-2015), Virginia men’s athletics and Stanford women’s athletics were the winners. You can view the scoring structure and download past winners at: capitalonecup.com