2004-05 Honor Roll: Candice Wiggins

If you have counted and kept track, you know that we have previously released nine of the 10 winners of The Bootleg's 2004-05 Honor Roll. Our 10th and final recipient is no surprise, as Candice Wiggins took the Stanford sporting world by storm this past year. A true superstar destined to be one of the great ambassadors for women's basketball, Wiggins still has three years left on The Farm.

In the Summer Issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2004/2005 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg’s Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational.  While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents.  Finally, these honorees’ performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed “Spirit of Stanford.”

Over the last month, we have been releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one.  We previously have recognized Tony Azevedo, Alice Barnes, Nicole Barnhart, Caroline Bruce, Gary Marshall, Erica McLain, Ogonna Nnamani, Michael Robertson and Sam Warburg amongst this year's winners.  Our 10th and final announced member of the The Bootleg's 2004-05 Honor Roll is women's basketball performer Candice Wiggins.

Nicole Powell, Kristin Folkl, Kate Starbird, Val Whiting, Sonja Henning and Jennifer Azzi: Stanford's Kodak All-Americans read as a definitive "Who's Who" of Cardinal basketball.  Create room for Candice Wiggins, for it took just one season for the freshman phenom to add herself to that list.  However, not content to merely join six Cardinal legends, the affable 18-year old managed to better her peers, becoming the first-ever Cardinal freshman to be named a Kodak All-American.

The collegiate All-American honors are the latest in an impressive litany of awards for the two-time state champion, high school All-American, and California's 2004 Ms. Basketball out of La Jolla Country Day.  On the regional level, Wiggins was named Pac-10 Player of the Year, Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and Most Outstanding Player at the Pac-10 Tournament.  Nationally, Wiggins was not only an All-American, but also was the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Co-Freshman of the Year, alongside Georgia's Tasha Humphrey.  Internationally, Wiggins served as one of three captains for the USA's U-19 World Championship Team earlier this summer, which won the gold medal for just the second time and played a perfect 8-0.  The rising Stanford sophomore was one of two U.S. players named to the five-member All-U19 World Championship Team.

For Stanford, Wiggins posted a team-leading 17.5 points per game on 48% shooting in leading her squad within inches of the Final Four.  She snatched 85 steals, more than double any teammate, and also pulled down 5.4 rebounds per game, remarkably high for a guard.

Wiggins' upside is seemingly limitless, with three areas where she has the potential to improve tremendously: ballhandling (she led the team with 103 turnovers), perimeter shooting (she shot about 10% worse deep than fellow starting guards Kelley Suminski and Susan King Borchardt) and team defense (while a great individual defender in open space, Wiggins was often a step behind facing opposing half-court offenses).

However, attempting to explain Wiggins' play through mere awards, statistics, and evaluations is as woefully inadequate as describing the Mona Lisa as a painting of a woman.  Perhaps the best demonstration of Wiggins' potential is the mood heading into this upcoming 2005-06 Stanford season.  Consider that of last year's top seven players, only Wiggins and teammate Brooke Smith return, creating a reloading task comparable to what North Carolina must attempt on the men's side.  However, despite the mass exodus of talent, the Cardinal will almost assuredly be predicted to finish atop the Pac-10 and amongst the top teams nationally, for one overwhelming reason: Candice Wiggins.

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