Diamond DeShields: 'I always wanted to play for Tennessee, period'

FILE - This file photo taken March 31, 2014, shows North Carolina guard Diamond DeShields during a news conference at the NCAA college women's basketball tournament in Stanford, Calif. DeShields, the former North Carolina guard, is transferring to Tennessee, joining the school where her mother starred in a different sport. Tennessee announced Thursday, June 12, 2014, that the 2013-14 Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year would be continuing her career with the Lady Vols. DeShieldsí mother was an All-America heptathlete for the Tennessee womenís track team in 1991, when she was known as Tisha Milligan. DeShieldsí father is Delino DeShields, a former second baseman who played for five major league teams from 1990-2002. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

FILE - This file photo taken March 31, 2014, shows North Carolina guard Diamond DeShields during a news conference at the NCAA college women's basketball tournament in Stanford, Calif. DeShields, the former North Carolina guard, is transferring to Tennessee, joining the school where her mother starred in a different sport. Tennessee announced Thursday, June 12, 2014, that the 2013-14 Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year would be continuing her career with the Lady Vols. DeShieldsí mother was an All-America heptathlete for the Tennessee womenís track team in 1991, when she was known as Tisha Milligan. DeShieldsí father is Delino DeShields, a former second baseman who played for five major league teams from 1990-2002. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Diamond DeShields has decided to reroute her collegiate women’s basketball career through Tennessee. In so doing, she’s revisited a childhood dream.

“As a kid, I always wanted to play for Tennessee, period,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I got sidetracked, but my interest turned in another direction.”

The 6-foot-1 guard finally arrived Thursday after one year at North Carolina. She was on campus along with her mother, Tisha. DeShields signed the necessary paperwork to complete the transfer, and UT issued an official release. She will have to sit out the coming season before becoming eligible for the 2015-16 season. She will have three years of eligibility remaining.

“She’s experienced, athletic and passionate, and she has a great knowledge of the game,” UT coach Holly Warlick said in the school release. “Diamond has been highly successful at every level of basketball, and her impact on our program will be immediate.”

DeShields visited Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina before ending what amounted to a second recruitment. She indicated that her choice was more difficult than the foregone conclusion many women’s hoops observers had determined it to be.

“It was extremely hard, harder than I thought it would be,” she said. “I think it came down to following my gut and the vision I’ve had for myself.”

Her vision included not only playing at Tennessee but being coached by Pat Summitt. DeShields said she cried when Summitt announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Summitt stepped down after the following season.

“I felt like my dream got crushed,” DeShields said.

While crediting Warlick, DeShields also said it was “huge” to become familiar with assistant coaches Kyra Elzy and Jolette Law, who weren’t on the staff previously.

“Once I got to know them, I felt back into my comfort zone,” DeShields said.

DeShields originally committed to North Carolina in May of 2012, ending her recruitment before it reached a full boil. She averaged 18 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game in her lone season with the Tar Heels, who went 27-10 and reached the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament. She was honored as the nation’s top freshman by both the USBWA and espnW.

In a statement issued in April, DeShields said that she reached her decision to transfer after meeting with Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell “on several occasions” during the course of the year. Hatchell granted DeShields a release from her scholarship, but Hatchell has maintained she doesn’t fully understand why DeShields opted to transfer.

DeShields said Thursday that she didn’t want to talk anymore about why she left North Carolina. She also minimized any notion that her choice was linked directly to her friend and workout partner, Te’a Cooper. The 5-foot-8 point guard from Powder Springs, Ga., one of the top propsects in the class of 2015, committed to UT last Thursday.

“People will say forever that we’re a package deal and we weren’t,” DeShields said. “What fit for me coincidentally fit for her.”

Tisha DeShields, a Lady Vols track and field All-American in 1991, is optimistic that her daughter will be happy with her new school. For one thing, it shouldn’t feel new.

“She had a pre-existing relationship with a lot of the girls,” Tisha said. “It’s like coming home.”

Diamond DeShields’ father, Delino, played 13 seasons as a second baseman in the major leagues.

DeShields was analytical about sitting out a season.

“As a competitor, I’m going to want to be on the court,” she said. “But me being a thinker, I know I need this year. I know I need this year to be at the standard I’ll be expected to play at.

“As long as I use it to my advantage, I’ll be fine.”

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Comments » 9

RockyTop1 writes:

I love us getting DIAMONDS!! GO LADY VOLS!!

ModelMaker writes:

Looks like Holly made one smart choice when she picked Kyra Elzy and Jolett Law as her assistant coaches. Te'a and Diamond are not only very talented players but I think they will help motivate the rest of the team to play at a higher degree of excellence and a little swagger; especially when its show time.

jmaples54 writes:

mickey deerstone better have an explanation ready when someone plays Deshields the tape of him saying on his morning radio show that he "hated" diamond Deshields.

MaxVolFan writes:

Well this is great news and will be a huge stepping stone to being a Elite program once again. I saw Diamond when UT was recruiting her and pointed to my UT hat i had on. She smiled and said 'maybe'. I'm glad she went with her heart. Now its time to develop a no non sense business approach to with this team. I believe Diamond can be the impact player we haven't had since Candace Parker. A non selfish player that makes her teammates better. This will be a very exciting team. But I'm ready to see this year's team go to the final four .

SoddyVol writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

Looks like Holly made one smart choice when she picked Kyra Elzy and Jolett Law as her assistant coaches. Te'a and Diamond are not only very talented players but I think they will help motivate the rest of the team to play at a higher degree of excellence and a little swagger; especially when its show time.

They sure can use some confidence with, as you say, "...a little swagger,". Those are main things that kept them (my opinion) from this years final four.

johnlg00 writes:

Perhaps there is reason to expect a few more titles in the next few years. Te'a and Diamond will form a backcourt one could mention right alongside some of the best to play the game. Now if the LVs could land a big post player or two in the next year or two--a task that should be considerably easier with such great guards to complement them--we could be seeing the start of another legendary run, starting with THIS season.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to jmaples54:

mickey deerstone better have an explanation ready when someone plays Deshields the tape of him saying on his morning radio show that he "hated" diamond Deshields.

Well, I guess you have heard the old saying, "He may be an SOB, but at least he is OUR SOB!" Suitably modified for gender, of course. I think Mickey will find some things to like about Diamond when she comes on the court clad in Big Orange. I know I will!

Theo writes:

in response to SoddyVol:

They sure can use some confidence with, as you say, "...a little swagger,". Those are main things that kept them (my opinion) from this years final four.

Couldn't agree more. I don't want to wait until 2015. No need. This team needs to get a little attitude. There is no reason they shouldn't compete this year. I'm glad we have nice kids but they need to remember they are Lady Vols and they should be respected and feared.

murrayvol writes:

We should be pretty well set at guard.

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