Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross junior Diamond DeShields is named the Gwinnett Daily Post's girls basketball player of the year.
With her choice of the nation's top women's basketball programs, Norcross junior Diamond DeShields found her favorite on Saturday.
The 6-foot-2 standout made a commitment to North Carolina, spurning her other top choices of Tennessee, Connecticut, Maryland and Duke. She is ranked as the No. 3 prospect nationally in the Class of 2013 by ESPN and her decision was surprising in the women's basketball community as many assumed that traditional powers Tennessee or UConn would win her services, or even Maryland, which has a commitment from her best friend, Lexie Brown of North Gwinnett.
"I went to sleep last night having no idea that I was going to commit today," DeShields said. "Atter my game today at 10 a.m., I left the gym and thought about things and took some time to myself. It was a random thought process. ... But I just had this feeling that UNC was the place for me."
DeShields was aware that some people are surprised by her decision. Most observers thought a heavyweight like UConn or Tennessee would land her commitment, not a UNC team that missed the NCAA Tournament last season.
"I may have thrown some people off with my UNC decision, maybe because UNC didn't have as good of a record last year," DeShields said. "But they have a lot of tradition and I'm looking forward to coming in there and winning a lot of games."
DeShields has won two state titles at Norcross, earning Daily Post girls player of the year honors the past two seasons. She averaged 21.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists this past season.
"If she's happy, I'm happy," Norcross girls coach Angie Hembree said. "I think the world of (North Carolina head coach) Sylvia Hatchell. She's a quality person. It's a quality program. She's in the ACC, which means she' ll be playing in Atlanta, which makes me happy. We'll get to see her play. I love her very much. She's a wonderful kid. Whatever school she chose from those finalists was going to be good."