Surrounded by her closest friends and family during a game where her former coach was in town, everything was set for Temple to retire Candice Dupree’s number Thursday at the Liacouras Center.
Her No. 4 joined the other Owls’ honorees in the rafters at halftime of Temple’s 87-60 loss to the University of South Carolina. Dupree played at Temple from 2002 to 2006 and scored 1,698 points.
Dupree, who completed her 12th WNBA season and made her sixth all-star team in the summer, was skeptical that this day would ever come.
“It had just been such a long time since I played here that I wasn’t sure that it would ever happen,” Dupree said. “But earlier in the year, I had started hearing that they were working toward it and when I finally got the call, I was just so happy.”
Dupree’s #4 hanging from the Liacouras rafters pic.twitter.com/x0dFE3wXVt— Kevin Schaeffer (@_kevinschaeffer) December 22, 2017
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who coached the Owls from 2000-08, coached Dupree and even played against her in the WNBA. Staley’s final WNBA season in 2006 was Dupree’s rookie year.
At halftime, instead of taking her team into the locker room, Staley kept her team on the court so she could embrace Dupree and have her players watch as Dupree’s number was dropped from the rafters.
“It was a really big moment for Candice, and I was blessed to be a part of it,” Staley said. “It was important for my players to be out on the court to see it too because maybe someday they’ll be in the same situation and I want them to see what it is like.”
Dupree finished her career as the second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder in program history. Former guard Feyonda Fitzgerald passed Dupree on the all-time scoring list during her senior campaign last season.
Even after being passed on the scoring list, Dupree remains as one of only three players in Temple history in the top seven of points and rebounding.
The other two are Marilyn Stephens and senior guard Tanaya Atkinson. Stephens, who played from 1980-84, ranks first in both scoring and rebounding and is the only other player with her number retired.
Atkinson is currently seventh in scoring and fifth in rebounding but could climb higher in both spots as she finishes her senior season.
“Candice and Marilyn built the program to what it is today and put Temple on the map,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “This was the perfect game for her to come back and get her jersey retired with Dawn back in town. And our players were able to see one of the great ones and learn from her and all the success she has had.”
After Dupree’s senior season, the Chicago Sky selected her sixth overall in the 2006 WNBA Draft. She ranks in the top 10 in league history in points and rebounds and won a 2014 WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury.
Dupree recently became a mother of twins with her wife and former teammate DeWanna Bonner. The added responsibility of motherhood, plus her obligations playing professionally in both the WNBA and Europe has prevented Dupree from being as involved with the Temple program as she wants to be.
On Temple’s current team, graduate transfer guard Mykia Jones wears No. 4 and will for the remainder of the season.
But after that, no player at Temple will wear Dupree’s number again as it hangs next to Stephens’ No. 33 in the Liacouras Center rafters.
“I knew it was Candice’s number when I picked it,” Jones said. “I was a really big fan of hers growing up and watching her in the WNBA. I think it is a great honor to wear her number for the rest of the season.”