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Dupree's Olympic dream within reach
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist

Candice Dupree

 

Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/26/2009 12:01 AM

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A self-described "military brat," Candice Dupree was often on the move during her childhood.

Discovering new places was neat, but moving so much didn't do her basketball career any favors.

Dupree, an all-star forward for the Chicago Sky, played only about a year of AAU basketball when she was in high school. Either she moved too frequently to establish herself in a program, or she was moving to places that didn't even have AAU programs.

"Eventually I got on a team in Florida but since I was late getting into the whole AAU thing, I wasn't highly recruited coming out of high school. I had no idea about how recruiting even worked," said Dupree, who snapped up the best offer she got - a full ride to Temple.

"For me just to be able to get a scholarship was a big deal in my family," Dupree said. "We had never even thought I would play in college, let alone in the WNBA."

And certainly not on the women's Olympic basketball team.

But now, Dupree has a chance to exceed expectations again.

On Wednesday, USA Basketball announced that Dupree is one of 14 athletes who have accepted invitations to attend the fall training camp of the women's national team. It runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 5 at American University in Washington.

The 14 players will join a core of eight previously named players, including Sky center Sylvia Fowles, who are already expected to make the Olympic roster for the 2012 Games in London. Essentially, Dupree and the other 13 invitees will be competing in this training camp and in other similar situations over the next couple of years for the four remaining spots that will close out the 12-player Olympic roster.

"It's not going to be easy, the top players in the WNBA will be there," said Dupree, who was one of the top scorers (15.7 ppg) and rebounders (7.9 rpg) in the WNBA this summer. "But I'm pretty excited. As long as I keep working hard and improving, I don't see why I don't have a good chance of making the national team.

"That would be huge. You can't get any better than being an Olympian. You have the opportunity to represent your family, the Sky, Temple University and your country. To me, it's such a big deal."

The biggest?

Or would eventually leading Chicago from expansion team to WNBA champion top earning a spot on the Olympic team?

"Of course, trying to make the Sky better and helping us win a championship is very important to me," said Dupree, who was the first draft pick in Sky history four years ago.

"But if you're talking about the ultimate goal in my career, the ultimate personal goal, it's being an Olympian. There's something about playing for your country, playing with and against the best in the world. In my opinion, you can't get any better than that."

Dupree says her family tends to agree.

She catches her mother Patty telling everyone who will listen the story of how her daughter has gone from relative obscurity to darn near the Olympics.

"My mom loves it. She gets a kick out of it because when you say USA Basketball, it's a big deal to people. They're kind of like, 'Wow,'" Dupree said with a laugh. "She'll be like, 'Yep, that's my daughter. She's doing this and that with USA Basketball.' She loves to brag about it."

Patty and Dupree can only hope that there will be even more bragging to come. Stay tuned.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com