Diggs signs to play college basketball at Texas JUCO
Wed. August 14, 2013 at 10:04 a.m. | By Chris Singleton/Staff Writer
Former Terrebonne basketball standout DeShaun Diggs will play college basketball at Hill Junior College this year. (Photo by Submitted photo)
Former Terrebonne High basketball standout DeShaun Diggs has experienced his share of setbacks in the past year.
Diggs saw his high school basketball career at Terrebonne end early when he was dismissed from the team during the middle of his senior season for a violation of team rules. He also didn’t meet academic requirements to graduate on time with his classmates in May.
Although those setbacks were hard to handle, Diggs said it didn’t deter him from his lifelong goal of playing college basketball.
After becoming more committed than ever to seeing his dreams come true, Diggs said he completed all work to get his diploma this summer. He said he also reached out to Terrebonne boys’ basketball coach Derek Szush, who helped him get in contact with college coaches.
Those steps in the right direction led to Diggs signing a letter-of-intent last week to play at Hill Junior College in Hillsboro, Texas.
Diggs, who averaged 25 points per game last season at Terrebonne, said he learned some valuable lessons from the setbacks, which he said inspired him to make a big comeback.
“It taught me a lot,” Diggs said. “I took school for granted. When I was in school, I was clowning around in classes. It woke me up. It showed me what I needed to do to get into college.”
Now the 19-year-old Diggs, who became a first-time father last year, said he is looking forward to building a new start away from Houma at Hill Junior College.
“I’m really excited to get this chance,” Diggs said. “I’ve put a lot of work in for it. I’ve got my daughter now, so I’ve pretty much put everything else to the side for her. I want to support my daughter, so I’m real motivated.”
Diggs, a multi-talented 5-foot-11, 180-pound former first-team All-District selection in both football and basketball, said he expects to play shooting guard at Hill Junior College, and he has goals of moving on to a bigger four-year institution once his JUCO days end.
“It’s a good school,” Diggs said. “They are rebuilding the team around me, so they are looking for me to be a leader. I’ve been playing basketball all my life. Basketball is my life. I just love it, so I’m ready for this opportunity.”
Szush declined to go into the reasons for his decision to remove Diggs from the basketball team last season, but he said his former player has started to show signs of humility from it. After seeing Diggs’ revitalized spirit and commitment a month ago, Szush said he hooked the basketball standout up with his friend in first-year Hill Junior College assistant coach Isaac Fontenot-Amedee.
Szush said he hopes Diggs takes advantage of his opportunity to showcase his amazing athletic talent, which he said is good enough to make it to Southeastern Conference-level competition one day.
“DeShaun said he was serious about wanting to get his stuff together, and I said I would do my best to help him,” Szush said. “He’s one of the best offensive players that I’ve ever seen in high school. He’s getting better on the defensive end, but when he’s motivated, he can guard anybody. If he takes care of his business, he is an SEC-caliber player. He is something special. I really hope the kid will make it.”
With his athleticism, strength, speed and scoring ability, Fontenot-Amedee said he looks forward to working with Diggs at Hill Junior College this season. He got a chance to watch Diggs play in summer showcases for the Louisiana D1 Ambassadors team in Houston in July, and he said Diggs stood out by averaging nearly 17 points per game.
Both Szush and Fontenot-Amedee said if Diggs stays on track, his path to a Division I school could resemble that of former Thibodaux High standout Shavon Coleman, who went through the JUCO ranks at Howard College before moving on to LSU last year.
“DeShaun is an extremely talented kid,” Fontenot-Amedee said. “He is really excited. I think he is really going to take advantage of this chance to go out and do something good with his life. We appreciate Derek for turning him in to us. We think the kid’s got tremendous potential. We believe he’s got the whole package as a player. Now it comes down to maturity, doing the right things and learning how to play the game a little bit at the next level.”
Darrell Murry, who coached Diggs in Terrebonne Parish Recreation leagues and the L.T. Rockets AAU basketball team, said he expects Diggs to become a college basketball star. As a member of the L.T. Rockets, Murry said Diggs stood out against top competition whenever the team traveled to play in AAU national basketball tournaments.
“As soon as I first met him, I knew something was special about him,” Murry said. “I’m glad I got a chance to witness it. I’m really proud of DeShaun. All of his hard work is paying off. A lot of people wrote him off because of the situation that happened with him in school, but I’m proud of him because he did what he had to do to get a scholarship. I know the talent is there. He has a bright future if he keeps his head on straight and stay focused.”
Diggs thanked all of his former coaches, including Szush, Murry and Terrebonne football coach Gary Hill, and his family for all of their support in his journey over the years. He is the second member of his family to move on to the college ranks, joining his older brother Brandon Diggs, who was a standout basketball player at Terrebonne and Delgado Community College.
Diggs said he will make the most of his second chance to play the sport he loves.
“I’m really thankful for this opportunity,” Diggs said. “It was my fault that I’m not playing bigger D-I ball right now, but I’m looking forward to going to playing junior college ball and moving on to the future.”