By: Jeffrey Newholm
What’s better: to hit the winning shot, or pass it to the shooter? Why hit it of course, because then it’s you who wins the game. People sure like to take credit for their accomplishments. Sarah Connor even stated, “there’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.” Unfortunately, free will has been under attack ever since academic grump B.F. Skinner started to mistreat pigeons. Free will, says scientists, is just an adaptive delusion. But if a man is no better than a machine, why do experts have such a hard time predicting the future? No one can. And WNBA star rookie Diamond DeShields swats aside the notion we can ever get humans figured out, let alone one game.
Picked most likely to be a pro athlete out of Norcross High Georgia, it was no surprise that colleges heavily recruited DeShields. She and three other girls picked elite North Carolina in the heralded 2013 recruiting class.
But just a few years later all four recruits transferred out, admitting that choosing a school as a group was unwise. Sylvia Hatchell’s loss was Holly Warlick’s gain at Tennessee. DeShields was a huge boost for a struggling Vols program, even leading an unlikely Elite Eight charge as a seven seed in 2016. After the next season, she announced that she was returning to school. But the All-American sentiment is never to leave well enough alone of course. So after earning her degree, she gambled everything and renounced her eligibility to play in Turkey. Sadly most gamblers who bet it all go broke. But while DeShields doesn’t play for the Aces, she seems to have hit 21.
Chicago Sky coach Amber Stocks, whose team owned the third and fourth picks, had a preference far ahead of time. By all accounts DeShields played very well, averaging 16 points a game against stiff competition.
This experience gives her an advantage over other rookies. Gabby Williams, picked by the Sky with the fourth pick, admitted to needing to work hard to adjust a level of play significantly higher than college. DeShields had no buyer’s remorse whatsoever over her choice. She stated before the draft, “There’s no part of me that feels any type of regret toward making this decision and doing it the way that I did it.” The Aces and Fever passed her by, allowing Stocks to bounce in with the third pick. And the new scoreboard has lit up in Chicago with DeShields’ name and number.
Even from her first game, DeShields has shined, with eighteen points on seven of eleven shooting. Every WNBA expert assumes that it will be Minnesota versus L.A. again in the finals. But every guess at DeShields’ future has already busted, as has preseason defeatism of the 2-1 Sky. Scientists assure us that the laws of physics, and fundamental workings of the universe, are completely understood. But it may take a bit longer for opposing teams to know how to stop the league’s most exciting young player.