A day after winning the Miss Georgia Basketball award, Norcross' Diamond DeShields received an even bigger one.
The 6-foot-2 senior was named the Naismith Girls High School Player of the Year, becoming just the second Gwinnett girl ever to win the renowned national player of the year award. The other was Collins Hill's Maya Moore, a current WNBA star who won it in 2006 and 2007. South Gwinnett’s Lou Williams won the boys Naismith award in 2005.
DeShields, a North Carolina signee, was one of three finalists for the award along with Tennessee commitment Mercedes Russell and Duke signee Rebecca Greenwell.
"I want to thank the Atlanta Tipoff Club for this prestigious honor," DeShields said. "I am very grateful and humbled to be in the company of such a tremendous list of past recipients, players I have admired. Awards such as this one mean so much, and it's the people who know my story that can truly appreciate the award's significance to me.
"It is their knowledge of all the hours of hard work, hardships and dedication, and for their support, I truly thank my family, coaches, teammates and fans for always believing in me. I want to especially thank God. Without Him, none of this would have been possible."
DeShields led Norcross to state championships each of her first two high school seasons and to the state Final Four last season. The Blue Devils play at Cherokee in Tuesday night's Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals.
A two-time Daily Post player of the year, she also is a multiple medalist with USA basketball, including earning MVP honors last year at the World Championships in Amsterdam.
"I am so proud and excited that Diamond is receiving this prestigious honor," Norcross girls coach Angie Hembree said. "She will be the first to tell you this honor comes not only through hard work but God given talent along with the love and support of her family, friends and teammates. Her success with USA Basketball, winning four gold medals and earning an MVP this year in the World Games, is another testimony to her abilities. I truly have cherished my time with Diamond, she has not only grown as a player but as a person. Her leadership skills, her demeanor and her humility make me very proud to know her and be her coach."
The Naismith award has been given to the nation's top girls player since 1987 and past honorees include Lisa Leslie, Chamique Holdsclaw and Candace Parker.
"For the national voters to select Diamond as the Naismith Trophy winner validates what we've seen her do night in and night out over the last four years right here in Atlanta," Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director Eric Oberman said. "She is a special player and very deserving of this honor."