The women’s basketball program at the University of Tennessee might just be the greatest of all time.
Even though fans of UConn might argue with that statement, the resume of the Lady Vols speaks for itself. No program in the history of NCAA Division I college basketball has won more games than UT. The team has produced 21 All-Americans, 14 Olympic medalists and 42 WNBA Draft picks.
From 1974 through 2012, the Lady Vols were coached by the late Hall of Famer, Pat Summitt. She guided Tennessee to 16 SEC titles, 18 Final Fours and eight national championships. Tennessee has appeared in every NCAA tournament since 1982.
Along the way to all the hardware the school has piled up, Tennessee has produced some incredibly talented players who have shattered record books and barriers.
And so, we thought we’d take a shot at picking Tennessee’s all-time starting five.
For this exercise, we picked two guards or backcourt players, and three forwards or frontcourt players. It wasn’t a simple chore, but we combed through the Vols’ record books to find out who was the best at scoring, who were the top passers and who were beasts on the boards. What we mostly found were winners.
Let’s break it down.
Guard: Holly Warlick (1976-80)
Warlick was one of the first great players to play under Summitt at Tennessee and did so before the NCAA had established a post-season tournament for women’s basketball. Still, with Warlick running point, the Lady Vols played in three AIAW Final Fours and captured an SEC title in 1980.
She was the first Tennessee athlete – man or woman – to have their jersey retired when Tennessee lifted her No. 22 in the rafters in 1980. She was a three-time All-American and held several UT records when her college playing career came to a close. Tennessee went 118-23 while Warlick was running point guard.
Today, she still holds UT records for most steals in a single season, swiping away 141 possessions in the 1978-79 campaign. She is also second all-time in career assists with 673 dimes.
Warlick later became an assistant coach to Summitt, helping the Lady Vols win eight national championships. She succeeded Summitt as head coach in 2012 and left her post in 2019 after having captured two SEC titles and three Elite Eight appearances.
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Guard: Kara Lawson (1999-03)
A well-rounded guard, Lawson was a versatile scorer and passer during her time at Tennessee, and become one of the program’s best shooters from beyond the arc and at the charity stripe. A 5-foot-8 guard from Alexandria, Virginia, Lawson was a leader on Tennessee teams that went to three Final Fours and captured four straight SEC regular-season titles.
In 2002, Lawson led Tennessee in scoring with 15.1 points-per-game. In 2003, she was an All-American, was awarded the Francis Pomeroy Naismith Award and was named to the All-Final Four team. She was also a four-time All-SEC selection.
Having racked up 1,950 points, she is sixth all-time in scoring in Tennessee history. She is also second all-time in career three-point percentage with a 41.5 percent mark, is sixth all-time in assists with 456, and is third all-time in career free throw percentage with an 84.7 percent clip.
Lawson won a WNBA title in 2007 and an Olympic Gold Medal in 2008. She is now an assistant coach for the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
Forward: Tamika Catchings (1997-2001)
Tennessee had one of its best seasons ever in 1997-98, going 39-0 and capping it off with an NCAA championship. One of the reasons they were so unstoppable was because of rookie Tamika Catchings, who holds the Tennessee freshman scoring record after pouring in 711 points that season.
A 6-foot-1 native of Duncanville, Texas, Catchings would go on to be just one of two Tennessee players to be named an All-American four times (we’ll get to the other player in a moment). Catchings was the AP Player of the Year in 2000 and led UT in scoring and rebounding in her junior and senior campaigns.
Catchings is still fourth all-time in scoring at UT with 2,113 points, sixth all-time in rebounds with 1,004 boards and third all-time in steals with 311.
In the WNBA, she became a 10-time all-star, a five-time Defensive Player of the Year, a champion and an MVP. Her No. 24 jersey was retired by Tennessee and the Indiana Fever.
Forward: Chamique Holdsclaw (1995-99)
A 6-foot-2 force of nature from Queens, New York, Chamique Holdsclaw is one of the greatest to ever play college basketball. Like Catchings, she was a four-time All-American, but she was also twice the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four, twice the SEC Player of the Year, and twice named AP Player of the Year.
Holdsclaw led Tennessee to three straight national championships and rewrote the record books in Knoxville. She is the Lady Vols’ all-time leader in scoring (3,025 points), rebounding (1,295 boards), and is fourth all-time in steals with 305 swipes. No Lady Vol has played in more games than her, either.
She led Tennessee in scoring and rebounding in each of her four seasons in Knoxville. In the WNBA, she was a six-time All-Star, twice the league’s rebounding champion and led the league in scoring in 2002. She helped the U.S. win a gold medal in 2000.
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Forward: Candace Parker (2004-08)
The list of Candace Parker’s accomplishments at the University of Tennessee is lengthy. But the funny thing is, it could’ve been even longer if she played all four years there. No matter, Parker cemented her legacy quickly in Knoxville, winning back-to-back national championships and earning three All-American nods.
Parker won the Wade Trophy in 2007, the AP Player of the Year award in 2008, and the Wooden Award in 2007 and 2008. She was twice named the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four and was twice the MVP of the SEC Tournament.
Again, in just three seasons in a Lady Vols’ uniform, she became the program’s third all-time leading scorer with 2,137 points and its eighth all-time leading rebounder with 972 boards. She also owns the UT career record for blocks with 275.
Parker also owns UT single-game records for free throws made (17) and dunks (two). She has UT single-season records for free throws made (201) and double-doubles (21).
In the WNBA, the 6-foot-4 Illinois native is a five-time All-Star, twice been named MVP, twice led the league in rebounding and won a championship in 2016. She also has two Olympic Gold Medals to her name.
Sixth Woman: Bridgette Gordon (1985-89)
Gordon was a three-time All-American and led the Lady Vols to their first two national champions in 1987 and 1989. She is still second all-time in scoring with 2,642 points and 11th all-time in rebounds with 915 boards. Gordon was the SEC Tournament MVP in 1988 and 1989, and the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player in 1989.
Reserves: Patricia Roberts, Daedra Charles, Shanna Zolman, Glory Johnson, Meighan Simmons, Dena Head, Michelle Brooke-Marciniak, Semeka Randall