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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Former UConn recruiting target talks about decision to commit to UNC

In all the years I have been covering the UConn women's basketball program I have never witness such an intense backlash following a commitment as I did when Diamond DeShields committed to North Carolina in early May.

Some of it is UConn's fault because obviously there is almost a sense of entitlement among some followers of the Huskies that they are supposed to land every top recruit they pursue. Let's be honest, there are times when it seems that is exactly what happens.

However, UConn recruited DeShields very hard and at various times in the process there were vibes that DeShields would land in UConn. But DeShields passed on the chance to commit to UConn and fellow women's basketball A-lister Tennessee and decided she wanted to be a Tar Heel.

So after DeShields and the rest of the U.S. U-17 squad scrimmaged the U-18 squad and the Brazilian junior national team Wednesday evening at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex, Carl Adamec of the Manchester Journal Inquirer and I spoke with DeShields.

"I had gone to sleep the night before not even thinking about committing to North Carolina," DeShields said. "I woke up that morning, had a tournament, went and played my game and didn't even think about it. Something in my head just snapped and I said 'I want to do it today.' It wasn't anything planned even though it was on Cinco de Mayo but Carolina had been in my heart for the longest. Usually when I am talking to different schools I will talk to Carolina and say 'I really like them.' Then I will talk to a Tennessee and 'I really like them now.' But with Carolina I talked to them when I was on campus and I loved it.

"I started talking to other coaches and my mind didn't change at all and it is like something, it is like God is speaking to me. I am really happy with my decision and I know I made the right one. I believe I did. You know the big names that were recruiting me wasn't expecting me to go to one of those
schools but I really wanted to make sure that I made this decision for me and everybody is like 'North
Carolina had a horrible season last year.' They did, they had a horrible season but that is not going to
change my mind because when I get there we are going to win, it is going to be good and it is going to be
a positive. I have confidence in myself and the other three recruits that are coming in with me that we
are going to make a turnaround for the North Carolina Tar Heels."

On the same day that DeShields announced her decision to commit to UNC, fellow Class of 2013 recruits Jessica Mavunga, Jessica Washington (also a member of the U-17 squad) and U-18 team member Alisha Gray also declared their intentions to play at Carolina. DeShields said she did not recruit them to join her with the Tar Heels but did gauge the interest of her fellow top recruits. Once she realized they liked the Tar Heels as much as she did a plan was hatched to make one major splash.

"It was pretty much 'you go, I'll go,'" DeShields said. "That is how it happened, the same day within the next couple of hours. We had all established North Carolina as the school that we liked and if we all went there we could do something special and be something special. We all had the same feeling about North Carolina before we had even spoke about it. We felt like it was meant to be.

"We got in contact, I had no idea but at (the) Boo Williams (tournament) Jessica Washington was on campus and I was going to be on campus and we ran into each other, Stephanie Mavunga was at Boo Williams as well and everything just happened, it was like God just put it together."

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