The junior opens up about why she feels the best backcourt resides in College Park and what it’s going to take to get the Terrapins over the hump this season.
Diamond Miller believes she’s a part of the best backcourt in America.
The Maryland junior guard told Swish Appeal that the duo of her and fellow junior guard Ashley Owusu puts the Terrapins ahead of all other guard combos in the country.
“We have enough confidence in ourselves,” Miller said. “We work hard every offseason, so why not put ourselves at the top? Of course, with a lot of growing, we’re still developing as players, but I think we’re both confident in our abilities, so why not put ourselves at No. 1?”
Owusu led Maryland in scoring last season, averaging 17.9 points, 5.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. The 6-foot Virginia native has a tight handle, a quick first step and strength to follow through contact at the rim. Her assist average also led the Terrapins last season; it was over two more assists per game than any Maryland teammate.
“Ashley is a very high IQ girl,” Miller said. “She knows when to give certain people the ball and I think we kind of just jell. She knows where I’m at and where I want the ball every time. We’ve been playing for, going on, three years now, so we know each other’s game to the point. It’s just a lot of fun, I enjoy playing with her and she’s a bucket so that helps.”
Miller was Maryland’s second-leading scorer last season as she averaged 17.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals and a block. The 6-foot-3 New Jersey native uses her length to get to the rim in few dribbles on offense, and takes up a lot of real estate on the defensive end of the floor. She said she grew up looking to the hybrid guard-forwards of Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne, as well as Maya Moore and Skylar Diggins-Smith. Some of her favorite basketball memories were of watching the Notre Dame-UConn rivalry, and her admiration for star players is one of the things that made the game fun to her. Miller’s size advantage as a guard came with an adolescent growth spurt after running offenses as a child. Away from her youth games and practices, she often competed against her siblings and father.
Her passion for playing and studying the game led her to making the 2021 All-Big Ten First Team. Miller and Owusu became the primary reasons why Maryland entered the NCAA Tournament as favorites to make a deep run.
March had other plans, however.
In the Sweet 16, against first-year Texas coach Vic Schaefer and 2021 WNBA Draft No. 1 pick Charli Collier, Maryland relinquished a first half double-digit lead and lost 64-61.
“It hurt,” Miller said. “Plain and simple. That loss was a dagger. We felt like we could’ve gone further than that obviously, but we fell short of our goals and it was just a nagging pain I felt for the longest time because my mind is thinking should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.”
Miller thought about what she could’ve done to help her team. She thought about the simple errors she made, the miscommunication, defensive breakdowns and missed rebounds.
She said she’s watched the game about four or five times since March, and has since forgiven herself.
“We can’t take anything for granted because that’s what I felt like we did in that game, and it’s like flipping the page,” she said. “We’re going to be back this year and we’re going to play harder and work on our details, which cost us the game in Texas.”
Miller has spent the offseason sharpening her game, and she was thankful for the opportunity to size herself up with some of the country’s other elite talent while playing with Team USA at the AmeriCup in June. She said the USA experience gave her a preview of some of the top professional basketball prospects, and the fact she held her own was a confidence booster.
Becoming a professional has always been Miller’s dream as a basketball player. Even with NCAA athletes being approved to compensate off their Name, Image and Likeness, Miller said she’s not going to wait to become a professional if the opportunity presents itself.
“If I have the opportunity, I’m going early just because that’s my dream,” she said. “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 of being a professional? But that’s just me, personally. That’s what I would do.”
Miller will be 21 at the time of the 2022 draft, so they would have to lower the minimum age down from 22 for her to go pro after her junior year.