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Amber Witherspoon: Lincoln Park High School's Dunking Senior

By Justin Breen | November 18, 2013 7:35am
Amber Witherspoon
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DNAinfo/Justin Breen

LINCOLN PARK — Only two women have dunked a basketball during an NCAA tournament game, and just a handful have completed a jam in the WNBA.

Which makes the fact that Amber Witherspoon, a Lincoln Park High School senior, has been dunking the ball since seventh grade all the more remarkable.

Witherspoon, 18, last week signed a national letter of intent to play hoops for Syracuse University. With the goal of earning a full-ride scholarship to a Division I school already accomplished, the 6-foot-4-inch center has another mission this season: to dunk at least twice in one game for the Lions.

"The ultimate goal is to get three dunks in a game," Witherspoon, of the South Loop, said before showing a spectator her one- and two-handed stuffs at Saturday practice.

 Lincoln Park High School senior center Amber Witherspoon signed to play basketball at Syracuse University.
Amber Witherspoon
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Her twin brother, Eugene, who was born 10 minutes earlier, also was on hand to watch her dunk.

"Not impressed. She's supposed to do that," Eugene Witherspoon, a 6-5 senior center on the Lions' boys team, said jokingly before noting he's a "far better dunker."

Witherspoon first flushed a basketball when she was a seventh-grader at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Hyde Park. By then, she already was 6-foot-4.

She said her height has been both a blessing and a curse.

"It's gotten me to a point where most people won't get to, and I'm able to do things shorter people aren't able to do," Witherspoon said. "But it's a curse because I can't find a prom date, and it was hard finding clothes when I was young."

Larry Washington has been the Lions' head coach since 1997, and he's never had a player as tall as Witherspoon, who wears a size 13 women's shoe.

He called the center a "hidden gem in the city" because she didn't dress for games almost all of last season because of various injuries. Despite the lack of high school experience, she still was able to ink a deal with Syracuse due to her solid performances with the Lady Mac Irvin Fire on the AAU level.

Washington hopes Witherspoon, a tri-captain, carries Lincoln Park to an IHSA regional title, which would be a first in his tenure.

"We have a big advantage, and we plan on using that advantage," said Washington, of Belmont Cragin, whose team begins its season Tuesday at home against Latin School of Chicago. "She's also morphed into our main captain this year, and I couldn't be happier with that."

As far as his standout center dunking during a game, Washington simply said: "If she does dunk it, she better make it. That's the bottom line."

Lincoln Park High School, 2001 N. Orchard St., hosts Latin School of Chicago in girls basketball at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.