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ND Women’s Basketball: Getting Shocked

Samantha Zuba | Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It has to be a big deal if it’s on in primetime, and that’s where the WNBA draft was Tuesday night. 

The Tulsa Shock selected Notre Dame’s senior guard Skylar Diggins with the third overall pick.

The Shock snagged Diggins after the Phoenix Mercury selected Baylor senior center Brittney Griner with the No. 1 pick and the Chicago Sky took Delaware senior forward Elena Della Donne at No. 2. The star power of the top-three prospects made this the first WNBA draft to grab the media spotlight, but Diggins expressed deep respect for the league she is about to join and its efforts to grow.

“You have to come in with a level of respect for the players that came in before you and paved the way for you,” Diggins said. “Within a matter of minutes, I went from being a fan to wearing a different hat and being a team member. I’m still giddy in my little-kid moment.”

Tulsa will gain an experienced leader and multi-faceted talent in Diggins. Diggins was unanimously named to the Associated Press All-America first team and earned the Nancy Lieberman award as the nation’s best point guard. She recorded 2,357 total points, 745 assists and 557 rebounds in her Notre Dame career. Diggins said she will strive to bring the same game and work ethic to the WNBA.

“I just really want to go in and do whatever is asked of me,” Diggins said. “I want to bring in that competitive nature and work ethic and be that leader that I was for four years at [Notre Dame].”

Diggins will put her talents to the test in the WNBA against a collection of the world’s best women’s basketball players. Her turnaround will have to be quick, as the Shock begin preseason play May 9 against the Atlanta Dream. The regular season opens May 25. Diggins said she trusts the team’s professionalism will pull the Shock together.

“The good thing is that at this point we’re all pros,” Diggins said. “They know the game, and it’s just a matter of us settling into a system.”

Born and raised in South Bend, Diggins will finally take her game on the road to Tulsa. In addition to adjusting to the WNBA style and caliber of play, Diggins will have to learn to play far from home in front of a new fan base. Diggins said she is looking forward to making the move and getting to know Tulsa.

“I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots,” Diggins said. “Then again, I’ve never really been outside of South Bend. I’m looking forward to buying a pair. … I heard the steaks are good. I’m looking forward to that.”

The franchise has struggled since 2010 and finished last season with a 9-25 mark. Diggins was optimistic about the Shock’s future prospects and for her own opportunity to make an impact.

“You have a coach [Gary Kloppenburg] that’s just excited about the future of this team,” Diggins said. “I think Tulsa made some great moves getting [guard] Candice Wiggins and [forward] Nicole Powell.”

Beyond the court, Diggins has the potential to be an ambassador for the Shock in the same way she was for Notre Dame. She helped the Irish reach a larger fan base with her Twitter account that garnered attention from many, including rapper Lil Wayne. Diggins said she plans to maintain her social media presence.

“I’ll continue to be on Twitter, that’s for sure,” Diggins said.

Above all, Diggins said she is excited to have an opportunity to play in the WNBA.

“I’m such a huge fan of the league and I’ve always been, and it’s such a dream come true to finally have a chance be a part of the league,” Diggins said.

Contact Samantha Zuba at szuba@nd.edu