Unhappiness led Diamond DeShields to transfer from UNC, mother says

acarter@newsobserver.comApril 25, 2014 

— While Diamond DeShields excelled on the court during her freshman season at North Carolina, she masked a sense of unhappiness that inspired her decision to transfer, her mother said Friday.

DeShields’ decision to leave UNC after one season – perhaps the best season by a freshman in ACC history – shocked Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell and stunned the women’s basketball community. It was a decision, though, that might have been a long time coming.

“Diamond has expressed that she hasn’t been happy for a while,” her mother, Tisha DeShields, said during a phone interview Friday. “Again, this wasn’t something that manifested itself during the season or after the season.

“Clearly, it was something that was developing from the very start. So she just tried to deal with it on her own and handle it and suck it up, as most people would say.”

Diamond DeShields, who led UNC to a 27-10 finish and an appearance in an NCAA tournament regional final, averaged 18 points per game and set ACC freshman records for points scored (648) and double-figure scoring games (32). She earned ACC Rookie of the Year honors and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association named her the national freshman of the year.

Hatchell, who missed the season while she received treatment for leukemia, said in a statement that she did “not know or understand” why DeShields decided to leave UNC. Tisha DeShields said her daughter was simply unhappy, and that her unhappiness was the result of “a lot of things” that “just accumulated.”

“It wasn’t just one thing,” Tisha DeShields said. “Because my kid is not shallow. She’s very … she’s a deep thinker. She’s very sensitive. She’s very intuitive. And as a parent, my job is to support her and help her.

“And that’s what I’m doing.”

Diamond DeShields struggled, her mother said, to finalize her decision to leave UNC. The most difficult part, Tisha said, was for Diamond to inform her parents, and Hatchell, that she wanted to leave.

DeShields played last season amid circumstances she couldn’t have envisioned when she decided to go to UNC. Trisha Stafford-Odom, the assistant coach most responsible for DeShields’ recruitment, left UNC last summer to become the head coach at Concordia University. Then Hatchell missed the season due to her health.

Tisha DeShields said those situations didn’t factor into her daughter’s decision to leave UNC, though.

“UNC has been good to her, and she’s fulfilled her commitment to this university,” Tisha DeShields said. “And we entered in gracefully and we’d like to leave gracefully. And we love UNC, we love the coaches.

“In the end, it just didn’t fit for her.”

It’s unclear where DeShields will transfer. UNC’s final day of classes was Friday, and Tisha DeShields said Diamond, a native of Norcross, Ga., planned to go home after finishing her exams.

“We’ve got to get her home,” Tisha DeShields said. “And we’ll come to some decision, hopefully sooner than later.”

Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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