March 11, 2009
ATLANTA – University of Notre Dame women’s basketball incoming freshman Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) has been selected as the 2009 Naismith National High School Player of the Year, it was announced Wednesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Diggins, who is rated as the consensus No. 1 guard in the country and one of the top three players overall, will be honored March 23 during the Naismith Awards banquet at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta. The Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the top girls and boys high school players and coaches in the country, is the most prestigious national award in high school basketball.
“We are incredibly proud of Skylar for being chosen as the Naismith National High School Player of the Year,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “She has accomplished so much in her high school career, both on and off the court, and we are looking forward to seeing her in an Irish uniform next season.”
Wednesday’s announcement is only the latest in a series of high-profile honors for Diggins, who also has been selected to participate in the McDonald’s and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) High School All-America games next month. Diggins 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). The future Irish guard will suit up for the East squad in this year’s McDonald’s High School All-America Game, which will be played April 1 at 5:30 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live nationally by ESPNU from the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla.
Meanwhile, 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). The 18th annual WBCA contest is slated for April 4 at 4:30 p.m. (CT) from the Washington University Athletics Complex in St. Louis, which also is the host city for this year’s NCAA Women’s Final Four and WBCA National Convention.
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.
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.
Awards have been plentiful for Diggins throughout her career, with the possibility for more to come, as the balance of this year’s state and national honors — including the announcement of the 2009 Indiana Miss Basketball — expected in the coming weeks.
Heading into her senior season, Diggins already was a two-time high school All-American by both Parade magazine (first team in 2008, third team in 2007) and EA Sports (first team in 2008, second team in 2007), as well as a 2008 USA Today All-USA selection and 2006 USA Today All-Underclass Team choice. Last year, she also was selected as the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Indiana, as well as the MaxPreps Indiana Player of the Year (garnering first-team All-America honors with the latter distinction). In addition, she was a three-time all-state selection by both the Associated Press and the state coaches’ association, a three-time South Bend Tribune Metro All-Area pick (2006-08).
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 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.
— ND —