KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Surprising news broke late Friday afternoon when Tennessee women’s head coach Holly Warlick announced guard Diamond DeShields will be leaving the team to turn pro.
The news came two months after DeShields announced on Instagram that she intended to return to Tennessee for her senior season. DeShields’ becomes the third Vol to leave the team after Alexa Middleton and Te’a Cooper both decided to transfer. Middleton averaged 7.9 points per game last season, while Copper missed last season with a knee injury but averaged 8.6 points as a freshman.
The oddity of the number of transfers even caught the eye of former Tennessee football player Leonard Little.
Heck is going on? https://t.co/u3pG1WuZq1
— L. Little (@DBL_L_01) June 23, 2017
Warlick tweeted a smiley face emoji less than an hour after the DeShields decision became public. Warlick deleted her Twitter account soon after the tweet.
“People were asking me if I was OK. The tweet was intended to say I’m OK,” Warlick told the USA Today Network-Tennessee. “People who know my character know that wasn’t intended at Diamond. That’s the truth. I don’t tweet negative stuff. I apologize if it offended anyone.”
DeShields led Tennessee in scoring last season with 17.4 points per game. She was second in assists for the Vols with 110. The SEC coaches voted her a first-team All-SEC selection.
“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 has been displayed thus far during offseason workouts,” Warlick said in a release. “Our staff can’t wait to continue building on that. We look forward to welcoming senior Kortney Dunbar and freshman Evina Westbrook to campus for the second summer session and are very excited about the future of this program, both for the upcoming season and in the years to come.”
Warlick secured the No.1 recruiting class and guard Westbrook comes to Tennessee as the No. 2 player in the country from her high school class, according to the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100.
Tennessee’s future sets up well after bringing in four top 60 recruits. With three Vols leaving before their exhausting their eligibility, all four freshmen may be factors this upcoming season.
Point guard Anastasia Hayes (No. 9), wing Rennia Davis (No. 12) and center Kasiyahna Kushkituah (No. 55) all join Westbrook in the highly-touted class.