Lady Vols' Parker not eligible for WNBA draft this year

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee star Candace Parker is not eligible for the WNBA draft this season and never had plans to leave college early, a Lady Vols spokeswoman said Friday.

"She has always planned to play next year," Tennessee spokeswoman Debby Jennings said.

The university discussed Parker's status in response to recent speculation on fan Web sites that the 20-year-old dunking sensation and Southeastern Conference player of the year would enter the WNBA draft in April.

Although she has two more years of NCAA eligibility, Parker is academically a junior and on track to graduate in December 2007. Jennings expects Parker will finish out the 2007-08 season as a graduate student.

WNBA rules prohibit players from entering the draft until their classes complete their senior year -- and Parker's classmates, juniors Alexis Hornbuckle and Nicky Anosike, won't graduate until May 2008.

"I envision her playing as a junior and then making a decision about what she does following [the 2008] Olympics," Jennings said.