KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced the All-Region nominees for the 2017 WBCA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team, and Tennessee redshirt juniors Diamond DeShields and Mercedes Russell are on that list.
The selection committee will choose the 10-member WBCA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team from the group of 52 candidates.
The Lady Vol standouts were among nine players on the list from Region 2. The others were Ronni Williams of Florida, Evelyn Akhator and Makayla Epps of Kentucky, Victoria Vivians of Mississippi State, Sophie Cunningham of Missouri, and Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson of South Carolina.
DeShields, a 6-foot-1 guard from Norcross, Ga., led Tennessee and ranked fourth in the SEC in scoring this season at 17.4 points per game, marking the highest average by a Lady Vol since Candace Parker put up 21.3 ppg. in 2007-08. It also was the sixth-highest ever recorded by a Lady Vol junior.
She also is tied for sixth in the league in assists (3.8 apg.), tenth in free throw percentage (.791), 12th in field goal percentage (.423) and blocked shots (1.0 bpg.), and 15th in rebounding (6.4) in all games.
DeShields hit double figures in points 26 times this season, scoring 20 or more points on 11 occasions. Despite leading the team in scoring average this year, she only paced the team in points during 10 games, while leading UT 16 times in assists and five times in rebounds. She also led the team in charges taken with eight. The next closest player had three.
Russell, a 6-6 center from Springfield, Ore., was Tennessee’s second leading scorer at 16.1 points per contest, ranking eighth in the SEC with that average and 10th all-time among Lady Vol juniors. She led the Lady Vols and ranked fourth in the SEC in rebounding at 9.7 per game, which is an average that is tied as the fourth-best ever recorded by a Tennessee player and ties for best-ever by a Lady Vol junior with Glory Johnson.
In addition to pacing Tennessee 10 times in scoring, 20 times in rebounding and 17 times in blocked shots this season, her .562 field goal percentage was fifth in the SEC, while her 1.4 blocks per game were fourth and her 34.6 minutes per game ranked sixth.
Russell led the SEC and was seventh nationally this season in double-doubles with 19, which was the highest total by a Lady Vol junior in school history. Only Candace Parker (21 as a sophomore) had more double-doubles in a season at Tennessee.
The WBCA selection committee uses an equation to determine an equitable number of nominees from each region. The number of NCAA Division I institutions in each region is divided by the number of NCAA Division I institutions overall to determine a percentage for each region. This percentage is then multiplied by 52 (the total number of desired finalists) to get the number of finalists for each region.
The 2017 WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America team will be announced Saturday, April 1 during the WBCA Convention in Dallas.
Visit www.wbca.org/recognize/ to see a list of past WBCA Coaches’ All-America teams.