Diamond DeShields was one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2018 WNBA Draft, as she was coming off a professional season in Turkey — when the typical player was finishing a collegiate year.
The 6-foot-1 guard was taken third overall by the Chicago Sky and with averages of 12 points and 4.8 rebounds through her first 13 games, she seems well-adjusted already to the flow of the WNBA game — attributing the smooth transition to her year overseas.
“When you are overseas, you are getting a low dosage of the WNBA. You are playing against maybe two or three WNBA players each game so it allowed me to make the adjustment,” she recalled. “A lot of the players overseas are guards so having those matchups every game was great for me. Now moving into the WNBA, it made me feel like I have already been here. There wasn’t much of a shock factor.”
Oftentimes, for a player in any sport to be successful it starts with having the right mindset, and DeShields knows that she was meant to be a professional basketball player in the WNBA.
“I have always felt like this is where I belong,” she said. “I actually had a sigh of relief once the season started because I finally felt like I was where I was meant to be.”
Chicago Sky Assistant Coach Carla Morrow voiced the same message about DeShields.
“You can just tell with Diamond the basketball court is her home. She has the confidence that she can play her game and play it well, and it is because she prepares herself so well,” Morrow said. “She puts in the work and puts in the time, so when you see how comfortable she is on the floor, it is because she has worked so hard to be there.”
So far this season, DeShields has scored in double-figures in six of 11 games, notching 20-plus in two of them. Something that has always come naturally to her was scoring the ball, which she has shown so early into her career.
DeShields always looked up to some of the WNBA’s best, in Angel McCoughtry and Diana Taurasi, who have both shown to be tremendous scorers in their own right.
“The first matchup that I had that really opened my eyes a bit was probably Angel (McCoughtry). After that probably Diana Taurasi as well,” DeShields said. “They are aggressive and carry themselves well. They are true students of the game and they don’t really care what people say about them, and I can appreciate that.”
DeShields appreciates the guidance that veteran teammates Stefanie Dolson, Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot have provided in helping ease her transition to the WNBA as a rookie.
“I think the player that gives me the most knowledge is definitely Stef (Dolson),” she said. “Q (Allie Quigley) and Sloot (Courtney Vandersloot) are great because they are always giving me confidence. They let me know that no one can guard me and that I should just go out and play my game. Letting me know not to settle, and to be aggressive at all times.”
Coach Morrow identified that Diamond and Stefanie would connect with each other right off the bat, noting the similarities in each players’ basketball IQ.
“I think Stef and Diamond are very similar players so it is no surprise to see them meshing so well. They are both very smart basketball players, so for Diamond going to talk to Stef, they are both speaking the same language,” said Morrow. “I think when you are able to talk to a teammate that is on the same basketball IQ level as you there will be a connection right away, and that is what they have.”
The Chicago Sky aren’t off to the start they wanted (3-9), but DeShields thinks that once they get a full and healthy roster back, the wins will come.
“I want to see us healthy first and foremost,” she said. “We are dealing with some major losses right now to our team, and once we get healthy, believe me we will start winning games.”
Diamond DeShields has shown the confidence on a nightly basis so far in her rookie campaign, and with the guidance of some All-WNBA players on her team, and the belief from the coaching staff, it seems that the sky is the limit.