Candice Wiggins and the Rising Stars
Ice has never had a problem playing ball with boys, just ask Jared Dudley.
by Candice Wiggins | @candicewiggins
This year has already been a year of reflection for me, and recently I had an epiphany: the best team that I have ever played on was the San Diego Rising Stars. As a young girl, I was told that I couldn’t play basketball with boys because I wasn’t good enough, but I was fortunate enough to prove the world wrong. Not only did I play with the boys, I played with the BEST boys in the entire city of San Diego, including my brother Alan Wiggins, who was an entire grade older and a whole foot taller than me. (Made for very interesting one on one games that lasted hours and sometimes days).
Besides my brother, we had several other great post players on the Rising Stars, including Quentin Byears, who was already 6-5 at 13 years old. He would laugh at me every time he blocked my shot in practice, and later when I got really good, I would laugh at him when he couldn’t.
The most well known member of the San Diego Rising Stars isn’t me, however. This epic Rising Stars team also included Jared Dudley, who now plays on the Phoenix Suns (@JaredDudley619 on twitter), nicknamed “Teddy” by all of the members of our squad. Jared and my brother would later play at Horizon High School in San Diego and win a State Championship together in 2003. We also had Dwain Williams, who was only in the 7th grade, even though the rest of us were 8th and 9th graders. At the time, SLAM Magazine considered Dwain to be the “Best Seventh Grader” in the whole country, and did a feature on him in the magazine. He went on to play Division I college basketball at Providence and Hawaii. (Dwain and I happened to be the same age, play the same position, and I thought I was better, so technically I would say that I was the best 7th grader in the country at that time). The point is, we had a pretty good roster. A great one in fact.
The skills that I developed playing on this epic all-star team have given me the courage that I now possess on the court. A slight competitive advantage. It is difficult to describe what it’s like competing at an advanced level with boys who are so much physically stronger and taller than you, but let’s just say that I held my own! One thing I always relied on was my sharp shooting, and my knowledge of the game. I could make a 3 pointer from anywhere, so I became a very valuable asset. (Shout out to my coach, Marlon Wells, for always putting me in the game at the most clutch moments!)
Indeed, the Rising Stars was a dynamic basketball team that had amazingly talented players. However, I realize now that the reason this team is so special to me was because we were a family. Every member of the team was like an older brother to me. They never took it easy when we played one on one or did drills in practice, and they always had my back on the court when it was time to play. They would even freestyle rap on instrumentals en route to big tournaments, and I would get in there and freestyle right with them. There was sense of camaraderie between us that allowed our team to play together seamlessly whenever we stepped foot on the court. Playing with The San Diego Rising Stars taught me what it truly means to respect the game of basketball, because it challenged me in a way that most basketball players never have a chance to experience. I feel honored to be able to call myself a teammate to some of the best basketball players in the game.
(Appearing in the photo, from left to right: (Back Row) Jared Dudley (third from left), Quentin Byears, Chauncey Wiseman, Alan Wiggins, Kenny Simmons (Front Row) Anthony Palmer, Dwain Williams, Ricky Durr, Casey Coughlin, Tito Littleton, Josh Stech, Candice Wiggins)