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U.S. team chooses DeShields

Diamond DeShields

Diamond DeShields

Diamond DeShields’ youth hasn’t slowed her rapid rise within USA Basketball.

The Norcross sophomore took another step Wednesday when she was announced as one of 15 finalists for the Americans’ Women’s Under-19 World Championship team. She was the youngest of the 32 players vying for those 15 spots in trials this week, beating out some players who have a year of college experience.

“(DeShields) made the under-18 team last year as a 14-year-old and she made the under-19 team this time as a 15-year-old, so I don’t know that this is any less phenomenal,” Norcross girls head coach Angie Hembree said.

DeShields and the other under-19 selections will reconvene next week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., as part of the ESPN Rise Girls Showcase. The group will train there until a June 5 game with Brazil’s under-19 national team. Following that game, a 12-player final roster will be picked for training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and competition at the July 21-31 Under-19 World Championships in Chile.

The 6-foot-1 standout, who has led Norcross to Class AAAAA state titles her first two seasons, helped the U.S. to first place in the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championships last summer.

“I think what stood out (at this week’s trials) was the difference between last year and this year,” DeShields said. “We all know I’m young but I think I’ve matured a lot since last year. On top of that, I think I played really good defense throughout the past couple of days. I just stayed focused and kept my composure. My body language stayed positive the entire time.”

A pair of other Gwinnett girls basketball players are busy with USA Basketball this week. Buford’s Kaela Davis and North Gwinnett’s Peyton Whitted are participating in the under-16 trials, which begin today.