Tennessee Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt, second from right, was presented flowers from the senior class to celebrate her induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame before their game against DePaul at home Nov. 18, 2000. She is join by Kristen Clement, left, Semeka Randall, Chamique Holdsclaw, son Tyler and husband, R.B. Summitt. Credit: The Tennessean

There was a time when the Tennessee Volunteers defined women’s college basketball.

Not only have the Lady Volunteers made every NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament since they began in 1982, but they have won or shared 17 SEC regular season titles, won 17 SEC tournaments, made a staggering 18 Final Four appearances, and won 8 national titles. 

You can thank Pat Summitt for that era of domination. The longtime head coach garnered 1,098 career wins along with almost all of the above accolades.

Summitt didn’t do it alone. She had an amazing run of great players who helped turn Tennessee into a powerhouse. So many that it was tough to whittle down the list to just 10. But these ladies played a huge part in creating the Lady Vols tradition and dynasty that stands today.

Let’s take a look at the 10 best Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball players of all time.

10. Patricia “Trish” Roberts

Some Lady Vols fans may not remember Trish Roberts but she played a huge part in the program’s history. She was the first African-American woman to play basketball at Tennessee, doing so in 1976. While she only played one season at UT, she made her mark, setting 11 records that still stand, including scoring 51 points and garnering 24 rebounds in a game. Her 987 single-season points total, 29.9 season scoring average, and 14.2 rebounds per game also remain records. No wonder she was named an All-American and Tennessee Female Athlete of the Year that season.

9. Mary Ostrowski

Mary Ostrowski was one of the first stars of Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols. The 6’2″ forward scored 1,729 points and grabbed 994 rebounds in her UT career, garnering All-American, All-SEC, and SEC All-Tournament Team honors. Known for her hook shot and gritty play, she was commonly referred to as “Mary O” or “Big O.” Ostrowski led Tennessee to three Final Fours and led the NCAA Tournament in scoring and rebounding in 1984.

8. Alexis Hornbuckle

Alexis Hornbuckle is a two-time national champion who has earned places on the 2007 All-SEC First Team, 2007 SEC All-Tournament Team, and 2005 All-SEC Freshmen Team. She also holds the mark for most career steals. Hornbuckle ended up as the first-round draft pick of the WNBA’s Detriot Shock and led the league in steals in 2008.

7. Semeka Randall Lay

Semeka Randall was part of the 1998 Lady Vols team that finished with a perfect 39-0 record. She was a two-time All-American who stands at No. 7 in Lady Vols history in scoring. She also had a reputation for being a great defensive player and earned the nickname “Boo” because of the way UConn fans relentlessly booed her during a game. She went on to have a successful career in the WNBA and is now a head coach.

6. Cindy Brogdon

Cindy Brogdon was a transfer out of Mercer who played for the Lady Vols in the late 70s. Brogdon averaged 20.8 points over her career, which ranks second all-time in school history while her 784 total points rank fifth all-time amongst Tennessee players. Brogdon was also one of the best free-throw shooters in Vols history, making 83.9 percent of her attempts from the stripe — fourth all-time in Lady Vols history.

5. Daedra Charles

Daedra Charles led Tennessee to two national titles, an SEC title, and an SEC Tournament crown. Along the way, she was twice named an All-American as well as an All-SEC first-teamer, SEC Female Athlete of the Year, NCAA Final Four All-Tournament MVP, and winner of the Wade Trophy, the highest distinction in women’s college basketball. In 105 career games, she averaged 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds. Her jersey was retired and she is one of only six Lady Vols with a banner hanging in the arena.

4. Bridgette Gordon

Before she became head coach of the Florida A&M Rattlers, Bridgette Gordon played for Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols. Gordon, along with Daedra Charles, led Tennessee to two national championships. She is also the program’s second-leading scorer (2,462) and is ninth in rebounding (915). She was also named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Tennessee went 115-21 during her career and advanced to the Final Four all four years she was there. Gordan has been inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the State of Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

3. Tamika Catchings

Catchings did it all while at Tennessee. She was named Naismith College Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year, USBWA Women’s National Player of the Year, and WBCA Player of the Year in 2000. As a freshman on the undefeated 1998 national championship squad, she was one of the “Three Meeks” alongside Semeka Randall and Chamique Holdsclaw. That she accomplished all of that, as well as a Hall of Fame WNBA career, while living with severe hearing impairment, makes it all the more impressive.

2. Candace Parker

Candace Parker‘s career with the Lady Vols got off to a rocky start thanks to an injury but she soon made her mark. She became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game, then became the first woman to dunk twice in an NCAA tournament game. She was named SEC Rookie of the Year and helped the Lady Vols win the 2006 SEC tournament championship. She was named SEC  tournament MVP and was named to the 2006 Kodak All-America team, making her one of the few ever to receive the award as a freshman. Parker was also part of Pat Summitt’s last NCAA Tournament championship team in 2008, her second national title. Parker ended her Tennessee averaging 19.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game.

1. Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw may be the most decorated player in Lady Vols history. She is a three-time NCAA champion, four-time All-American, two-time AP Player of the Year, and won just about every other player award you can think of. She finished her Tennessee career as the program’s all-time leading scorer (3,025) and rebounder (1,295).  She would eventually be named Naismith’s Player of the Century for the 1990s and is considered by many to be among the best college basketball players of the last 30 years. Following a lengthy WNBA career, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.