March is Girls Sports Month, and as part of USA TODAY High School Sports’ fourth-annual Girls Sports Month celebration, we’re speaking with some of the most influential female athletes, coaches and celebrities in the sports world.
It’s been 14 years since Candace Parker stunned the world and threw down monster dunk after monster dunk to become the only female ever to win the slam dunk contest at the McDonald’s All American Game.
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The drought could be ending this year with Winder-Barrow (Ga.) forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa being picked for the game, which tips March 28 at Phillips Arena in Atlanta.
Nelson-Ododa, a Connecticut signee, said she’s “95 percent sure” she’ll enter the dunk contest.
“It would be exciting to compete in something like that,” Nelson-Ododa said. “Candace Parker is definitely a big motivation for me so I’d have to go back and watch the video of when she won. But, yeah, I think I want to do it.”
Naturally, her competition will be stiff.
When Parker won in 2004 she had to beat out guys like Rudy Gay, J.R. Smith and Josh Smith.
Nelson-Ododa will have to contend with high-flyers like Spartanburg Day (S.C.) wing Zion Williamson, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) wing Keldon Johnson and Orlando Christian Prep (Fla.) wing Nassir Little, all probable to enter as well.
Still, like Parker, Nelson-Ododa checks in at 6-foot-5 and can consistently throw down dunks with ease.
She has yet to dunk in a game, but regularly dunks in practice.
“I don’t do too many tricks with my dunks,” said Nelson-Ododa, who is ranked No. 5 overall in the ESPN Hoop Gurlz 100. “I have my one-hander that I’m confident with. I just need to keep practicing. Maybe I’ll work on some tricks too.”
It certainly won’t hurt her chances to have the home court advantage.
Historically, fans tend to back the local players at the McDonald’s All American Game like the Chicago crowd did for Jabari Parker in 2013 and Jahlil Okafor in 2014. That energy combined with her high-wire act could impact the judges.
Nelson-Ododa said she’s “lost count” of how many friends and family she’ll have in attendance for the game.
“It’ll be a lot,” Nelson-Ododa said. “I’ve got teams coming, coaches coming, people in the community, family, just everybody. I’m already feeling the support so I know with something like the dunk contest they’d be really excited to see that. I’m gonna get to work to be ready.”
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