By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Candice Dupree left quite a legacy at her alma mater.  By the time she was selected sixth overall by Chicago in the 2006 WNBA Draft, she was the second all-time scorer and third all-time rebounder in the history of Temple women’s hoops.

Throw in two Atlantic-10 “Player of the Year” awards and a pair of Big 5 “Player of the Year” awards, and it’s safe to say that Dupree created some pretty lofty expectations for her pro career.

But the former Lady Owl has had little trouble meeting and exceeding those expectations.

Now a forward for the Phoenix Mercury, Dupree has emerged as one of the WNBA’s elite.  In this, her sixth season, Dupree is averaging a “double-double” through the season’s first seven games (16.4 ppg, 11.0 rpg), and she says she pushes herself to reach that status every night.

“I do.  And not just ’10 and 10′, but like 20 and 15.  That’s what the team needs from me in order to win these games,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

Dupree is putting up these numbers while playing with one of the most well known women’s basketball players in all the country: former UConn star Diana Taurasi, who averages more than 20 points a game for the Mercury.

Dupree says the two mesh well together:

“Everybody knows that Diana is a great outside shooter and a great passer, so my job is to rebound the ball and run the floor.  She does a good job of kicking the ball ahead.  We play a lot of pick-and-roll basketball, and she usually sees me a lot coming off screens if she’s not wide open.  Great teammate to have motivation-wise — she’s always fired up, kind of complements me because I’m a little more laid back.  So I think we’re good for each other.”

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Dupree is a three-time WNBA All-Star.  Her career has been marked by not just a high level of  performance but also remarkable consistency.   From 2007 to 2010, she averaged between 15.7  and 16.5 points and 7.6 to 7.9 rebounds per game.

This is her second season in Phoenix after being traded over from Chicago, where she spent the first four years of her pro career.  She says her game has evolved over the years.

“I have a little more range.  Definitely rebounding the ball a lot better,” she says.  “Got to pick it up defensively because you are guarding some of the best players in the world now.  Free throws have definitely gotten better.  So, a lot has changed.”

And while she is excelling as a pro, Dupree still remembers her time on North Broad Street fondly.

“That team and family atmosphere is probably the biggest thing,” she says of her Temple days.  “Because, you know, when you are a pro you practice and play together but you kind of go your separate ways when you’re not at the gym.   In college you’re with your teammates all the time — you have fun together.”

Dupree’s Mercury are 4-3 here in the early going.  They visit Indiana tonight.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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