0

DeShields makes U18 US team

Norcross' Diamond DeShields goes up for a shot during the state semifinals this past season. DeShields was selected to the U.S. under-18 national team.

Norcross' Diamond DeShields goes up for a shot during the state semifinals this past season. DeShields was selected to the U.S. under-18 national team.

When Diamond DeShields headed out to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., last week for a set of trials for three different USA Basketball Women's National teams, her expectations were quite modest.

"I was really unprepared to stay this long," she said in a phone interview Monday. "Everybody was ready for me to come home (today)."

However, the Norcross rising sophomore will have to make some new travel plans after making the final cut as one of 12 players selected for the 2010 USA Women's U18 National Team on Monday.

DeShields will now remain in Colorado Springs with the national through the end of the month, culminating with the team hosting the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship from June 23-27.

She was originally among a group of 63 players nationwide -- including Norcross teammate Kaela Davis and Buford's Andraya Carter -- invited to compete for spots on the U18 National Team, the U17 National Team and the 2010 Youth Olympic Games 3-on-3 Tournament team. Carter was selected for the Youth Olympics team.

She expected to have a chance to make the U17 team, but was surprised when she was named as one of 16 finalists for the 12 rosters spots on the U18 team Friday.

The surprise grew even bigger when she survived the final round of cuts and was selected to the final roster by a committee that included the team's head coach -- the University of Hartford's Jen Rizzotti -- and at least three other Division I college coaches.

"These are quality coaches -- people you can't fool into thinking you're something that you're not," Norcross coach Angie Hembree said. "It's an honor to be asked to try out, and an incredible achievement to be asked to stay and play with players of that caliber. I'm so proud of (DeShields) and her effort. I think this is the beginning of a great career for her if she continues to work hard and stay humble."

DeShields, who just turned 15 in March, is the youngest player on the roster by at least a year on a roster comprised mostly of recently graduated high school seniors or rising seniors.

She also joins a roster that includes five McDonald's All-Americans who are headed to major Division I college programs, including Connecticut signees Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, plus Kayla McBride (Notre Dame), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) and Theresa Plaisance (LSU).

"It seemed like all (the players at the trials) were McDonald's All-Americans," DeShields said. "It was kind of overwhelming. I didn't understand why they chose me. ... I'm the youngest player there by, like, a year. But one of the coaches I spoke with said, 'There's no age limit on talent.'

"I'm ready to do what they ask me to, and I'm just happy to have the opportunity."

DeShields came into the summer off a season in which she and fellow freshman Davis helped Norcross to their first state championship by winning the Class AAAAA state tournament.

DeShields was a first-team All-County selection by the Daily Post after averaging 17.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game.