Candace Parker: From only two-time ALL-USA Player of the Year to WNBA Finals MVP

Candace Parker: From only two-time ALL-USA Player of the Year to WNBA Finals MVP

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Candace Parker: From only two-time ALL-USA Player of the Year to WNBA Finals MVP

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Oct 20, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker (3) celebrates the WNBA Championship with her daughter against the Minnesota Lynx in game five of the WNBA Finals. at Target Center. The Los Angeles Sparks beat the Minnesota Lynx 77-76. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-337416 ORIG FILE ID: 20161020_tdc_ai9_218.JPG

Candace Parker celebrates the WNBA Championship with her daughter (Photo: Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports)

In the history of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA selections, few players have been chosen more than once to either the first, second or third team.

But only one, according to USA TODAY research, was named Player of the Year in his or her sport twice.

That player is Candace Parker, who was the ALL-USA Girls Basketball Player of the Year in 2002-03 and 2003-04 for Naperville (Ill.).

Parker added another chapter to her long list of basketball accolades on Thursday night when she won the WNBA Finals for the first time in her career and was named WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player. Parker led the Los Angeles Sparks with 28 points and 12 rebounds to a 77-76 victory in Game 5 against the Minnesota Lynx.

The championship — and Parker’s emotional response, dedicating the title to her former Tennessee coach Pat Summit — provides an opportunity to look back at just how dominant Parker was in high school in her two Player of the Year seasons.

All USA Girls Basketball Team player Candace Parker --- DATE TAKEN: 4/7/2003 By John Zich USAT , Source: For USA TODAY Naperville IL UNL - Unlimited reuse ORG XMIT: PX93709

Candace Parker from Naperville High in Illinois was the ALL-USA Player of the Year in 2003. (Photo: John Zich, USA TODAY Sports)

Junior Year, 2002-03

She averaged 24.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and three assists, leading Naperville to the Class AA state title and was named Illinois’ Miss Basketball for the second time.

In her first three high school seasons, she posted a total of 2,175 points and 1,316 rebounds.

She discussed her future as part of a USA TODAY interview after being named Player of the Year:

Q: In 10 years I want to be where? Doing what?

A: “In graduate school either studying psychology or medicine. Of course, I’d be interested in the WNBA if I get the opportunity.”

Senior Year, 2003-04

She averaged 24.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.3 steals, leading Naperville to its second consecutive Class AA state title, despite missing 11 games with a torn knee ligament. She also was named Illinois Miss Basketball for the first time.

She finished with 2,758 career points, helping Naperville to a 95-4 record in her final 99 games.

Asked what car she drove at the time by USA TODAY, she said a 1990 Ford Topaz.

Q: What vanity plate would you choose?

A: PLJ. “Means peace, love and jump shot. I that’s how I sign autographs.”

All USA player of the year Candace Parker, Naperville, IL

A year later, Parker repeated as the ALL-USA Player of the Year. (Photo: Anne Ryan, USA TODAY Sports)

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Candace Parker: From only two-time ALL-USA Player of the Year to WNBA Finals MVP
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