DeShields's mom talks for first time about why Diamond is leaving UNC
Tisha DeShields said there wasn’t "some huge, dramatic” reason or “one identifying factor” why her daughter, Diamond DeShields, is transferring from North Carolina after scoring an ACC freshman record 648 points.
Instead, Tisha DeShields said Thursday that it was a combination of things that caused DeShields to make the shocking decision to leave UNC after being named the national freshman of the year and leading the Tar Heels to the Elite Eight.
“It’s tough to walk away when you have accumulated so many accolades and awards and things of that nature,” said Tisha, who spoke publicly for the first time since Diamond’s decision was announced last week. “Some people, that’s all they aspire to do, is go to college and achieve these goals. But for Diamond, it’s bigger than basketball. That’s in a nutshell. She’s looking for a well-rounded experience, in a sense.
“She did extremely well on the court, as her numbers proved. It was a little bit of everything. When you go to college, it’s supposed to be the best time of your life.”
Tisha said that Diamond didn’t make a last-minute decision. Instead, her daughter had been praying about it and struggled with the choice the entire year. The Norcross, Georgia native told UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell of her final decision to transfer in an emotional meeting after the season that Tisha attended.
Hatchell, who missed the entire season while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, said last week that she did not “know or understand” why her star player was leaving. Tisha said she understood why Hatchell would feel that way, and that it wasn’t anything personal with the Hall of Fame coach, who the family will continue to love and support.
“Diamond just needs different things. And sometimes you have to allow yourself to get in that environment to see if your needs are going to be fully met,” Tisha said. “We’re all changing and growing and changing our minds. Sometimes I feel like people can be a little unfair trying to hold an 18-year-old to a standard that they themselves don’t live by. She’s still growing and this is just part of her maturation process.
“She did her best and she stuck it out and she gave it everything she had in hopes that things would work together, so she can honestly say ‘I gave it the best I had, and it’s still not going to work for me.’”
Diamond also acknowledged her decision to leave for the first time on Thursday through a message she posted on Twitter. Though she didn’t specify why she was leaving, she thanked her supporters at UNC and said that she wouldn’t be in touch with other schools until she completed her academic year. The last day of classes at UNC is Friday.
DeShields is believed to be the first women’s basketball player to transfer after being named freshman of the year.
“It’s a simple case of a square peg in a round hole,” Tisha said. “There’s nothing wrong with the square peg and there’s nothing wrong with the round hole. Sometimes they just don’t fit.”