KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Holly Warlick says guard Diamond DeShields is no longer with the Lady Vols’ program, choosing to pass up her final year of eligibility to play professionally.
Warlick announced the move Friday.
DeShields, who transferred from North Carolina after her freshman season, has graduated from Tennessee. Warlick said in a statement DeShields now has a chance to play professionally.
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The 6-foot-1 DeShields averaged a team-high 17.4 points to go along with 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a junior at Tennessee last season. The Lady Vols went 20-12 and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament after losing their Southeastern Conference Tournament opener.
This latest move represents a change in DeShields’ plans
DeShields had announced after the season that she would return to Tennessee for the 2017-18 season and that she welcomed the opportunity to play alongside a heralded incoming freshman class. In an Instagram post, DeShields said at the time that ”developing my game further and playing for championship(s) are always part of the ideal plan, but giving these four young ladies the opportunity to be themselves, make mistakes and still have the love they need and deserve is first priority.”
But in a school release Friday afternoon, Warlick said that ”Diamond has opted to forego her final collegiate season.”
DeShields is the third player to leave Tennessee’s team with eligibility remaining since the end of the season. Guards Alexa Middleton and Te’a Cooper also have departed.
Middleton averaged 7.9 points and made 13 starts last season. Cooper, who has transferred to South Carolina, averaged 8.6 points for Tennessee as a freshman in 2015-16 before missing last season with a knee injury.
Warlick expressed optimism Friday regarding the players who remain on Tennessee’s roster.
”I am pleased with the commitment of our talented group of returnees and highly-regarded freshman class, and I have been encouraged with the talent, chemistry, attitude, work ethic and intensity that have been displayed thus far during offseason workouts,” Warlick said. ”Our staff can’t wait to continue building on that.”