March 31, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Although her high school playing career may be over, University of Notre Dame women’s basketball incoming freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) continues to be a presence on the national prep circuit, as she participates in a pair of nationally-televised high school all-star games this week.
The Naismith and Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, as well as this year’s Indiana Miss Basketball honoree, began her week with a place in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” feature. In the March 30 issue of the magazine, it states “Skylar, a senior point guard at Washington High, was named Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 29.0 points and leading the Panthers to a 26-1 record, including a runner-up finish in the state Class 4A tournament. The 5′ 10″ Skylar has signed with Notre Dame.”
Diggins got her all-star week going Monday night, when she won the Girls’ 3-Point Shootout title at the Powerade Jam Fest, held in conjunction with the McDonald’s Girls High School All-America Game at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla. Diggins rang up the highest score among the 16 competitors (8 male/8 female) during the preliminary round of the three-point event, finishing with 17 points. She then came back to defeat Ta’Shauna Rodgers of Suffolk, Va., by a 14-12 margin in the girls’ final. The Diggins-Rodgers matchup could be a sign of things to come for BIG EAST Conference fans, as Rodgers is headed to Georgetown in the fall.
The Powerade Jam Fest, which also included a skills challenge and slam-dunk competition, was televised on both ESPN2 and ESPNU Monday evening. It can still be seen on ESPN360.com and will be replayed at various times in the coming weeks on the ESPN family of networks (check local listings).
Diggins will remain in south Florida to compete in the McDonald’s Girls High School All-America Game at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Wednesday at the BankUnited Center, with the game to be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPNU (with ESPN360.com and other ESPN outlets showing replays at a later date). She will be the fifth future Notre Dame women’s basketball player to compete in the McDonald’s game since its inception in 2002, joining the likes of Courtney LaVere (2002), Crystal Erwin (2003), Lindsay Schrader (2005) and Devereaux Peters (2007).
From there, Diggins will hop a flight to St. Louis, where she will play in the 18th annual Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) High School All-America Game at 4:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday at the Washington University Athletics Complex. The game will be televised on a tape-delayed basis by ESPNU, airing Sunday (April 5) at 5 p.m. ET. Diggins will be the sixth Irish women’s basketball signee to take part in the WBCA High School All-America Game, following the footsteps of Alicia Ratay (1999), Katy Flecky (2001), LaVere (2002), Schrader (2005) and Ashley Barlow (2006).
Diggins recently completed one of the most storied careers in Indiana high school girls basketball history by leading Washington High School to its fourth consecutive Indiana Class 4A state championship game appearances, one of only four schools ever to pull off that feat. In her four years on South Bend’s “West Side,” the Panthers posted a staggering 102-7 (.936) record, winning the 2007 4A state title (the first girls’ crown by a South Bend public school).
While helping WHS to a 26-1 record and a No. 1 national ranking (by ESPN Rise magazine) for much of this season, Diggins led the state in scoring at 29.0 points per game, while adding 6.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 5.4 steals and 2.2 blocks per game (ranking sixth in the state in steals and eighth in assists). What’s more, she was an exceptional shooter, connecting at a .616 clip (207-of-336) from the field, including a .406 mark (56-of-138) from three-point range. All told, she piled up 14 30-point games this season, with three coming in the state tournament, including a season-high 38 points in a semi-state victory over Pendleton Heights. She also tallied two double-doubles and one triple-double (nearly a quadruple-double) this year, amassing 28 points, 12 assists, 12 steals and nine rebounds in a season-opening win over LaPorte on Nov. 15.
A three-time high school All-American and four-time all-state selection, Diggins finished her prep career with 2,790 points, good for third in Indiana high school history behind only Shanna Zolman and Stephanie White. Overall, she averaged 25.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 4.4 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, holding Washington High School records in just about every meaningful category, including career and single-season points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. In addition, she owns 4A state championship game records with 17 rebounds (vs. Columbus East in 2007) and four three-pointers made (vs. Castle in 2006), as well as three of the top six scoring performances in the Class 4A title game, including a 29-point effort in this year’s 71-69 last-second loss to co-national No. 1 squad, Ben Davis High School, before more than 13,000 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in a game many have called the greatest in state history.
Furthermore, Diggins has been a key contributor for the United States on the international basketball scene, twice earning gold medals, most recently as a member of the USA Basketball squad that was led by former Irish assistant (and current Northern Illinois head coach) Carol Owens and went a perfect 5-0 at the 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In that competition, Diggins started all five games, ranking second on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg.), leading the team in assists (3.6 apg.) and steals (2.0 spg.), and adding 3.2 rebounds per game.
Diggins also is considered a prime candidate to suit up for the United States at the FIBA U19 World Championship For Women, to be held July 23-Aug. 2 in Bangkok, Thailand. The USA Basketball U19 National Team Trials will take place May 14-17 in Colorado Springs, Colo., with 30-35 players competing for a spot on the 12-player squad. The coaching staff for that team has yet to be announced.
— ND —