July 18, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- Candace Parker was busy Wednesday night at the Staples Center, helping her Los Angeles Sparks beat the Atlanta Dream, 77-74, and improve to 11-4 on the season. Meanwhile, across the street at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, she was among those named as winners of awards at the star-studded ESPYs.
Hosted by actor Jon Hamm, the 2013 ESPYs were televised live on ESPN/ESPNHD, and Parker was chosen Best WNBA Player in a category that included former Lady Vol Tamika Catchings (Indiana), Tina Charles (Connecticut), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota).
It marked Parker's second ESPY for Best WNBA Player (she also won in 2009) and her fourth overall. She was named Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete in 2008 following her final season at Tennessee.
Current Tennessee freshman Mercedes Russell got to soak in her first time at the ESPYs. As winner of the Gatorade National Female High School Basketball Player of the Year award, she was a finalist for the national female athlete of year award that was announced on Tuesday night. Soccer player Morgan Andrews of Milford, N.H., was named the female recipient of national honors, but all female and male finalists attended the ESPYs and walked the red carpet.
A 6-foot-5 post player from Springfield, Ore., Russell was named the Gatorade Female Basketball Player of the Year for the state of Oregon and the Gatorade National Female Basketball Player of the Year earlier this season. She was the sixth Lady Vol to garner national player of the year accolades, joining Kris Durham (1986-87), Lisa Harrison (1988-89), Michelle Marciniak (1990-91), Shyra Ely (2000-01) and Candace Parker (2002-03, 2003-04).