Diamond DeShields Knows Nothing But Winning, And Accepts Nothing Else
Norcross High Schoolís Diamond DeShields is the youngest player on the basketball court this week in Colorado Springs, Colo., as the USA Basketball Womenís U19 World Championship Team trains for next weekís competition in Puerto Montt, Chile, but sheís also taking on a leadership role, trying to help her team to a gold medal.
DeShields, who is just 16 years old and could have played for the U16 team, which won a gold medal last month in Mexico, knows what it feels like to win a gold medal, earning one last summer at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. She recently completed her sophomore season in Norcross, Ga., and aided her team to a 29-3 record and its second consecutive state championship. In two seasons, DeShieldsí team has posted a 58-7 record, while the 6-1 guard has averaged 19.1 points and 7.1 rpg. For her accomplishments, DeShields has been the recipient of countless awards and honors over the past two years, including the Gatorade Georgia Girls Basketball Player of the Year (2011), Ms. Georgia Basketball (2011), USA Today All-USA second team (2011) and ESPN Rise Freshman of the Year (2010).
After the teamís first practice of the week, DeShields sat down with USABasketball.com to answer a few questions.
Talk about competing in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship last summer:
That was really like a dream come true. As a little girl who wanted to play basketball, your dream is to always play with the national team. I felt like last summer, I started the process of playing with the national team. I see it truly as a blessing to, first of all play with all of these great players, and to represent your country all in one.
Describe what winning a gold medal feels like:
Weíre out here playing for each other. Thereís nothing like winning that and having it around your neck. Weíve all worked our butts off and weíre not going to settle for anything less than gold.
What part of the USA Basketball process are you most looking forward to?
Iím most excited about the travel and the diversity of it all, you know, meeting people from other countries and becoming friends with them. That part is really fun for me, the cultural aspect. Also, playing against other countries. When I talk to my friends and tell them that our first game is against Japan, they are in shock and think itís pretty awesome.
As a 16 year old, youíre the youngest girl on the team and could have played on the U16 team. How do you view that?
I donít get tired of people asking me because I know that Iíve worked hard to get here and I feel pretty deserving of it all. When Iím out here on the court, though, Iím not a 16 year old. Iím a player on the USA U19 basketball team. I donít use my age as an excuse; nobody talks about how young I am. We come out here and play at the same speed, same level of competition. It doesnít matter how old you are, competition is competition.
Between winning gold last year and back-to-back state championships in your first two years of high school basketball, winning seems to follow you. Do you feel that way?
I do. My coach always says, ĎIf youíre on my team, youíre going to winí. Thatís how I feel; if youíre on my team, Iím going to do whatever I can to get my team to win. I donít celebrate anything but a win; I hate losing. Everyone out here hates losing, too, and thatís why I think this team is going to be successful.
Between all of the winning and accomplishments, do you have a favorite basketball memory?
Theyíre all great to me. Godís truly blessed me. I think that my greatest memory is either winning gold last year or getting Gatorade State Player of the Year this year.
You mentioned the Gatorade Georgia State Player of the Year honor, but youíve also received numerous other accolades. What do those mean to you?
Those are all compliments to my game. I want to keep working hard so I can get to the next level and excel at the next level. All of those accomplishments and accolades are just a compliment to my game, thatís it.
You grew up in a very athletic family. Have sports always been a big part of your life?
I used to play basketball for fun. I never thought I was that good, but everyone would talk about how athletic I was. My first sport that I loved was tennis. I started to get looks in basketball and I stopped playing tennis. But I play basketball and tennis, I run track, play softball; Iím just very diverse in the athletic field. I love sports.
You volunteer with several organizations. What makes you want to do volunteer work?
You always want to give back. I feel like itís selfish to keep receiving things and not give back. Sometimes my mom and I will feed the homeless. My dad does baseball clinics voluntarily; he doesnít charge anyone. Iíll work camps at school. Iím still a person too. People enjoy seeing someone they know doing volunteer work. I enjoy it, too; itís fun for me.
When you eat fast food, whatís a typical order for you?
Wendyís is right down the street from my school, and itís always right after practice. Literally, you can walk to it. I get two junior bacon cheeseburgers, I get a 10-piece nuggets, a large sweet tea, a large order of fries and a large chocolate frosty. I inhale it all. But I donít eat a lot; itís just after basketball practice I eat a lot.