Lady Vols land talented transfer DeShields

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UT Release) – The consensus 2014 women’s basketball national freshman of the year is relocating to Rocky Top, Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

Six-foot-one guard Diamond DeShields, who averaged 18.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game as a rookie at North Carolina in 2013-14, has signed an SEC Grant In Aid and will begin attending classes during the second session of summer school on July 3. She will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules and has three seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2015-16 campaign.

“We’re very excited to announce that Diamond DeShields is joining the Tennessee family,” Warlick said. “She’s experienced, athletic and passionate, and she has a great knowledge of the game. Diamond has been highly successful at every level of basketball, and her impact on our program will be immediate.”

DeShields shot 42.6 percent from the field and 77.6 percent from the free throw line for the Tar Heels in 2013-14, setting four Atlantic Coast Conference freshman marks, including points (648), field goals (248), field goals attempted (582) and double-figure scoring games (32). She helped UNC reach the NCAA Elite Eight and finish with a 27-10 record and No. 7 ranking in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll.

The daughter of former Lady Vol track & field All-American Tisha (Milligan) DeShields and former Major League Baseball player Delino DeShields was named 2014 ACC Rookie of the Year and was a member of the All-ACC First Team, ACC All-Freshman Team and All-ACC Tournament Team.

At the national level, she was named the Full Court, espnW and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, was an honorable mention All-American by Associated Press and Full Court and was on Full Court’s Freshman All-America First Team.

“This is the place I’ve dreamt of since I was a little girl, just being here and playing here at Tennessee,” DeShields said. “God sometimes has strange ways of working, and now I just feel like I am where I am supposed to be. I will give everything I have to make sure those dreams I had as a kid are fulfilled.

“This is not about me. It’s about we. I’m here to help this program win games and win championships.”

DeShields, who hails from Norcross, Ga., was the No. 2-rated high school player in the 2013 All-Star Girls Report and was No. 3 in the HoopGurlz-espnW 100. She was named 2013 high school girls player of the year by USA TODAY, Naismith and the WBCA and was named an All-American by McDonald’s as well as by Parade, USA TODAY and the WBCA.

She scored a school-record 2,324 points during her career at Norcross High School and averaged 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 3.8 assists as a senior in leading NHS to its third state title in four seasons.

“Of course, I’ve always seen her being here at Tennessee,” said Tisha DeShields. “It wasn’t until she developed her craft and skill in basketball – it could have been tennis or a number of things – but I’ve always seen here her. Fortunately, it was basketball, and I just knew she was going to be a Lady Vol.

“I didn’t want to force my agenda on her (when she made her original college choice), and I knew that was her decision and one she would have to be happy with. As a parent, I needed to support her, even though I joked with her that I was going to buy her orange briefs to wear underneath her uniform.

“Now, I just feel like she’s in the right place. I feel like she’s found her place, on The Summitt.”

DeShields is UT’s first transfer from a four-year school since Michelle Marciniak arrived from Notre Dame and sat out the 1992-93 season. Tennessee returns nine of 10 players from a squad that finished 29-6, won the SEC Tournament, finished second in the SEC regular season standings and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the 32nd time in school history.

The newcomer will join the program along with a trio of freshmen, including Kortney Dunbar (6-2, guard/forward, Edwardsville, Ill.), Alexa Middleton (5-9, guard, Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Jaime Nared (6-2, guard/forward, Portland, Ore.). Jannah Tucker, a 6-0 guard from Baltimore, Md., also joins the active roster following a redshirt year in 2013-14 after enrolling in January.

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