Updated: SHE DID IT! Diamond Miller Makes Women’s U16 USA Basketball Team

Diamond Miller in action during tryouts for the U16 USA Women’s Basketball Team. Graphic: USA Basketball.

FHS basketball standout Diamond Miller has realized a dream she’s had since the 8th Grade: to be part of a US Women’s National Basketball Team.

Miller, a sophomore at Franklin High School, and a big reason behind the Lady Warrior’s state championship, will be one of 12 women representing the United States in the 2017 FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The New Jersey state champion’s selection to the final 12 was announced May 31 on the USA Basketball web site.

Reached later in the evening on May 31, Miller said she still had the “walking on air” feeling.

“It was actually a little more than I expected,” she said of the four-day tryout. “Every session girls are coming to bring it and everybody wants to make the team, and you have to bring your best every session. It can be tiring and overwhelming, you just have to push through it. You just have to pick yourself up after every session.”

“It was session after session after session,” she said. “Some days it would be three sessions, each two hours. That’s a six-hour day of just basketball. You have breaks in-between.”

The tryouts were not just all shooting and running, she said.

“It was skills, there was a leadership seminar, there was lots of scrimmaging, position work,” she said. “It was just really good here. Even if you don’t make the team, you take something out of the weekend. They’re just trying to make you better.”

Making the national team was something Miller thought she could do when she was first nationally ranked as an 8th Grader, she said.

“That’s when I realized I could compete with other girls in the nation,” she said.

In her short time there Miller said she’s made friends with four other players.

“We’re like five peas in a pod,” she said.

Miller credited her success to the support she’s received during her young career.

“A lot of people believe in me and I believe in myself,” she said. “All the support helps me and motivates me and encourages me to do my best every time I step on the court.”

Miller and her father, Lance, have been at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Col. since late last week. The championship runs from June 7-11.

Originally among 133 girls vying for the 12 slots on the team, Miller, a guard, survived a number of cuts before being named as one of the 18 finalists on May 29.

The team was sequestered for the 48 hours before the final announcement so the selection committee could see how the girls interacted.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Dreana Miller, Diamond’s mother.

Miller said she knew the decision would be made May 31, and she thought she would hear at about 10:30, 8:30 Colorado time.

“I called Diamond this morning, and we did prayers as usual,” she said. “She said I’m not going to fund out ’till 8:30 (her time).”

“Then it was 10:35, and no text, no phone calls,” she said. “Now I’m getting nervous. At about 11, she called, she’s screaming, ‘Mom, I made it.'”

Lance Miller had already texted his wife, Dreana Miller said, “and I’m out of my mind and we’re screaming together.”

Now the logistics of the trip are kicking in, she said.

Diamond will practice with the team until they leave for Argentina on June 4. Lance Miller will come home, and he and his wife will attend the FHS girls basketball fundraising dinner on June 1 at the high school.

There’s also arrangements that have to be made for Diamond’s school work, Dreana Miller said.

“She’s been on the honor roll since she’s been at the high school, so we’re trying to keep up her grades so she finishes as strong as she can,” Miller said.

Miller said she’s also booking flights and accommodations for her and her husband in Buenos Aires.

“This wasn’t something on our agenda, in regards to a family vacation,” she said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

But, she added, “this is a good thing to get used to.”

FHS girls basketball coach Audrey Taylor said she was “very excited” for Miller.

“I’m proud of her,” she said, “this is an amazing accomplishment.”

“She deserves everything that comes to her,” Taylor said. “She works very hard, she’s a great example for the community. She gives young ladies something to look forward to. She’s a star athlete.”

“I had no doubt that when she got there, she was going to give it her all,” Taylor said. “Now she can say she’s one of the top girls in the country.”

“We are thrilled about these 12 players that the committee has chosen,” USA head coach Carla Berube said in a press release about the final team. “I think we bring a lot of athleticism, strength and a high-basketball IQ. I think they are going to play some really great defense, along with creating for each other. We are going to work the next five days, and get ready for Argentina and put together a strong team that plays together, plays hard, plays smart and represents the United States the way it should be. And, hopefully make our country proud.”

The USA team starts its tournament play on June 7, with a game against Columbia. Reaching the semi-finals of the America’s Championship would qualify the team for the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018.

The 2017 team is not guaranteed a spot on the 2018 team, Diamond Miller said.

“You have to try out again, but they believe in keeping it consistent,” she said. “If you make it this year, you have a better chance of making it next year, but nothing is guaranteed.”

The past two U16 teams did not live up to expectations, going home with bronze medals. Diamond Miller said the 2017 team doesn’t feel the pressure yet, but they know the history.

“Once we realize how good we can be, we’re definitely going to pass bronze,” she said. “We’re doing really good together. Even though we’re from different states, we all have that one goal and that’s to win gold.”


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