clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Diamond Miller has paved her successful path by knowing what she wants

Diamond Miller will go down as one of the greatest Maryland Terrapins of all time and now starts a new journey with the Minnesota Lynx.

Syndication: Courier News
Diamond Miller is a No. 2 pick that the Minnesota Lynx can get excited about.
Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Diamond Miller told Rashad Milligan in a Swish Appeal interview that she was on the shorter side when she first started playing basketball, which is why she developed guard abilities. She has of course grown into the most enticing big guard prospect in her draft class. She is a long 6-foot-3 and is known for her pesky poking at the ball on defense and her long strides in transition.

Miller became Franklin High School’s all-time leading scorer as a junior, so the Warrior faithful of Somerset, New Jersey knew she was a special talent who was potentially destined for greatness at the next level or levels. And do you know who she passed to sit atop the program’s all-time scoring list? It was her sister, Adreana.

Miller’s older sisters, Adreana and Laniya, both played Division I basketball and, along with Miller’s father, Lance, inspired her love of the game. Miller also has a younger brother, Landen, who she plays against.

Growing up with these siblings in Somerset, one town northwest of New Brunswick and Rutgers University, Miller won three Group 4 state titles and two Tournament of Champions titles. As a senior, she was named New Jersey’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Her father, who played at Villanova and professionally overseas, coached her in AAU on Team Miller Lightning, a team that also found success.

When it came time for college, Miller didn’t play for her hometown Scarlet Knights, but also didn’t want to go as far away as Notre Dame, a storied women’s basketball school that was interested in her. So, as so many New Jerseyans do, she went to the University of Maryland. In addition to the location being ideal, she was impressed by the Terp coaching staff.

Four years later, her strong bond with Maryland head coach Brenda Frese is set in stone. Frese was at the WNBA Draft on Monday watching Miller go second overall to the Minnesota Lynx.

It was a college career that saw a lot of heartbreak, with the Terps missing out on a potential No. 1 seed due to the tournament’s cancellation in 2020 and bowing out at the Sweet Sixteen stage in 2021 and 2022, which was early based on their talent level both years. But a hypothetical Final Four, two Sweet Sixteens and an Elite Eight is quite impressive, with that Elite Eight appearance coming this past season and being extra sweet after a two-year struggle to get over the hump.

Miller averaged 17.1 points as a sophomore and 19.7 as a senior. When Angel Reese and Ashley Owusu transferred elsewhere after the 2022 season, she remained loyal to Frese and Terp Nation and became the unquestioned face of the program. As a senior in 2022-23, she stepped up in all the big games, impressing her childhood hero Kevin Durant with a buzzer-beater to beat Notre Dame, making a clutch shot that was key in Maryland downing UConn for the first time ever and dropping 29 and 16, respectively, in blowouts of eventual Elite Eight team Ohio State and eventual national runner-up Iowa.

Those quality wins and others helped Maryland secure a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the program’s 13th as a 1 or 2. In Miller’s final game at XFINITY Center, she lifted the Terps past a dangerous Arizona team and into the Sweet Sixteen with 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.

She added 18 points in the win that sent the Terps to their 11th Elite Eight and 24 in a valiant effort against South Carolina in the Elite Eight. Not many believed that Maryland even had a chance against the Gamecocks, but, because of Miller, everyone in the Terp locker room believed they could win a national championship.

Along the way of this thrilling senior season, the field behind Aliyah Boston narrowed to just Miller as the presumed No. 2 pick. When her name was called by Cathy Engelbert, it was almost as unsurprising as when Boston’s named was called just moments before.

After Miller was drafted by the Lynx, she said she was bluffing by not declaring for the draft prior to the 2022-23 season. If you watched Milligan’s interview prior to the 2021-22 season, you would have already known that Miller was in that state of mind.

When asked by Milligan if being able to get paid through NIL would influence her decision about when to go pro, Miller said:

Your dream ever since you’re younger is to go professional. So if you have the opportunity to go early, personally I’m taking it. I’m going early, just because that’s my dream. My dream is not to play college basketball forever. You can’t stay in one spot for too long, so I feel like if you have the opportunity to go, why not flip the page and start your career as being professional.

Miller’s opinion on going pro takes nothing away from the heart and effort she put into everything she did at Maryland. She desired with all her heart to be like Crystal Langhorne, Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman and deliver a national championship to College Park. The proof comes in this Kareem Copeland tweet after Maryland’s Jan. 12 loss to eventual No. 1 seed Indiana:

Miller was every bit of the most fierce competitor imaginable right down to the final buzzer against South Carolina. Her story at Maryland is a lesson in loyalty and one that Terrapin fans will always remember. Miller has stayed loyal to Maryland, Somerset and her family, and true to herself.

But another great attribute of hers is knowing what she wants. And it should be the the No. 1 goal of every college kid, regardless of field, to make it professionally. More power to her for making headlines by saying she was bluffing. And welcome to the WNBA Diamond Miller.