DeShield and McCall Have A Golden Friendship
Much has changed for Diamond DeShields and Erica McCall since winning the 2012 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship, but their friendship, which was formed that summer in Alcobendas, Spain, remains as solid as gold.
After returning to their respective high school teams and matriculating to colleges on opposite coasts -- DeShields to Tennessee via North Carolina and McCall to Stanford, the duo is again teaming up for USA Basketball. They returned to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to as members of the USA Basketball World University Games Team on June 20 and departed for South Korea a week later. They’re scheduled to compete in the 2015 World University Games in Guangju beginning July 5 and are excited at the prospect of competing for another gold medal together.
“Since there were only three of us, it was easy for us to connect,” said McCall of forming a bond with DeShields during the 3x3 experience. “Coming here it is just like old times. We are cracking jokes like we did on the 3x3 team, so it was really easy to come back. We are roommates, which is great because we are always cracking jokes about what is on TV or Instagram.”
Following the 3x3 competition, DeShields returned to Norcross High School, where she averaged 26.0 points and 7.0 rebounds as a senior to led the team to its third state title, while McCall finished prep school at Ridgeview High School in Bakersfield, California. She helped the team to a CIF Central Section Division II title and to a CIF Division II title game in 2013.
After two years of college, DeShields and McCall returned to Colorado Springs mid-May to participate in the 2015 USA Basketball National Team Trials, where the duo was named to the USA Basketball World University Games Team.
DeShields, who redshirted the 2014-15 season at Tennessee after transferring from North Carolina following the 2013-14 season, was excited to make her debut amongst friends who constantly keep her spirits up as she continued to battle an injury.
“Erica is one of those players you just love to be around,” DeShields said of McCall. “She is always happy. She always brings good positive energy on and off the court. You never catch her not smiling, not encouraging. Even on her bad days, it is still good for the rest of the team because she does a good job on internalizing her frustrations. I have never seen her frustrated, which really helps for the positive vibe of the team. She is a great teammate. She is a great friend.
McCall says although her teammate was sidelined for some of training camp, the support of her friend from the bench was inspiring.
“She is a great player,” recalled McCall. “ I remember when I tried out for my first USA Basketball team; she had made the U19 team when she was 15. I am super blessed to be about to play with her. She is a great player and leader. I am learning so much from her even though she is off the court, on the sidelines. I can still hear her cheering, being a great leader. I just want to be a great leader like her. I am blessed to be on another team with her.”
Though both members of the team have won gold at different competitions, DeShields and McCall are enthusiastic about the World University Games, also known as the collegiate Olympics amongst athletes for its similar atmosphere.
“I am crazy excited,” stated McCall. “I have always wanted to be in the Olympics so to be in a mini-type setting will be exciting. We will be able to interact with different players from different countries, which will be a lot of fun.”
DeShields echoed McCall’s feelings in a statement about the games.
“I am really excited. The World University Games is a different experience from what I have heard from people because it has more sports, more athletes,” said DeShields. “But it is the same as far as international basketball, which is something I have experience in.
“I feel like I am 14 years old again,” DeShields added. “Part of it has to do with all the girls here that have not played internationally, more than half the team has never been part of USA Basketball. I remember my excitement for my first experience so I want this to be the best experience for them. I want to get them a gold medal. It is not about me, granted I sat out this year, I didn’t play but I am doing this for all of them who that have not had a chance to do it yet.”
For DeShields and McCall, this experience is just like the one in 2012 in that they are embarking on a new journey for gold together.
“Every time you are on the podium, it is a surreal experience even if it is not the real Olympics,” said DeShields of hoping to win her fifth gold medal as a USA Basketball team member. “It feels real enough because you are representing your country against the best players in your age group that is an invaluable experience in itself. Winning another gold medal will be a blessing for me considering the fact I have not won anything in the past year. So to have my first win after sitting about be a gold medal win would be awesome.”
Catch the USA live on ESPNU against Italy on July 4 at 9 p.m. EDT and against China on July 6 at 4:30 a.m. EDT!