Photo by Gregory French // Staff Photographer
It has been a little over a month since former MTSU star Cheyenne Parker was dismissed from the Lady Raiders basketball team for multiple failed drug tests.
Despite her removal from the Blue Raiders on Feb. 27, Parker still plans to complete her mission of making a WNBA roster. Parker has been going through an intense workout program with a focus on heavy lifting, cardio and skill training.
The main objective of Parker’s arduous workout regime: impress WNBA coaches and scouts on April 4 at the ProHoops WNBA Combine in Tampa, Florida.
“I’m very confident going in there because I’ve been working my butt off,” Parker said about the upcoming combine. “I know what I can do already as an athlete and player. My mindset is to go above and beyond and to just prove to them that even though I did make a mistake, I’m worth it.”
The biggest challenge for Parker may not be the actual workouts, but rather the interview process that each player goes through. Inevitably, coaches and scouts will begin to question Parker’s previous marijuana usage.
“I’ve had that talk with my agent (Mike Perez),” Parker said. “The best thing that he advised was to be honest and keep it 100 percent truthful. I made those mistakes, but I moved on and I’m getting help now.”
With her strenuous workout routine, Parker has taken a huge leap forward with her on-court game. More importantly, though, is her proactive approach off the court. Parker has been in a church-based program called Celebrate Recovery, and has been sober since entering the program.
“I wish I had done it before,” Parker said. “I haven’t drank or smoked. This happening, I don’t want to say shook me up, but it woke me up. It showed me that there are more important things in life.”
Parker says that she has been attending Celebrate Recovery every Tuesday and Thursday and it is something that has greatly benefited her.
“It’s been really helpful,” Parker said. “The first hour is testimonies, celebrating God and reading scriptures that are really fulfilling. The next hour is the lesson and then after that you do small groups, and you just talk in those groups.”
The 6-foot-4 forward’s lifestyle change will certainly help her both on and off the hardwood, especially with Parker garnering attention from numerous WNBA teams headed into the combine.
Parker has earned the eyes of WNBA teams such as the New York Liberty, Indiana Fever, Tulsa Shock and Washington Mystics. She has also attracted interest from teams overseas, which presents her with the option to potentially play in the WNBA and abroad since each begin in different seasons.
“There’s a couple of teams that are highly interested and say they want me. Like the Indiana Fever and the Tulsa Shock were the top two teams that were like, ‘We’re not thinking about what happened, we just want to move forward,’ and there’s a possibility I will get drafted in the first or second round,” Parker said. “There’s the Mystics, who’s coach just emailed my agent and said the image is not looking too good.”
Blue Raider women’s coach Rick Insell, who has yet to contact Parker since her dismissal, was said to have previously spoken with Mystics coach, Mike Thibault, per Parker.
“I don’t know if he’s reached out to others, but I know he did speak with the Mystics coach,” Parker said. “I actually plan on writing a letter to each individual (MTSU) coach, just thanking them. They gave me a scholarship and I kind of just threw it in their face. I respect (Insell) and I understand that he’s upset. He’s a good coach.”
“I wish that I never messed up my relationship with him. If I had just stayed on the right path then things wouldn’t have been like that. I don’t blame him, I can’t. I did it to myself.”
It is hard to predict where Parker may land in the draft given the negative image that some teams have formed. Regardless, Parker hopes to hear her name called on draft day when it rolls around on April 16.
“I had a definite first-round draft but because of this it could hinder that,” said Parker about the quickly-approaching draft date. “As of right now, I’m just focused on proving myself again and I just have to work even harder now.”
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