Angie Hembree, who built the girls basketball powerhouse at Collins Hill years ago, thought that coaching Maya Moore was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a high school coach.
Now at Norcross, Hembree has struck gold again with two freshmen who are already drawing legitimate comparisons to Moore, the Connecticut All-American who has been the national player of the year in high school and college.
The freshmen are Diamond DeShields and Kaela Davis, both 6 foot 2 with skilled all-court games.
‘’I’m proud to be associated with Maya,’’ said Hembree, who won a state title with Moore in 2005. “She was certainly a dream come true for any coach. These two freshmen are wonderful kids, too, hard workers like Maya, with their whole life ahead of them. I just hope they enjoy playing as much as Maya did and accomplish as much as she did.’’
Norcross is 15-2 (13-0 in Georgia) and ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA.
The freshmen are the daughters of former professional athletes. Delino DeShields was a major league baseball player with more than 400 stolen bases. Antonio Davis was a 6-9 NBA power forward for 13 years. He coached both girls on an AAU team that won the 13-and-under national title last summer and the girls are each rated among the top 10 freshmen in the country.
Then there’s senior point guard Briana Jordan, a Tennessee Tech signee and daughter of former Braves outfielder Brian Jordan. She passes out compliments like assists.
“These are the best freshmen I’ve ever seen,’’ Jordan said. “It’s a tremendous blessing as a point guard to have two amazing freshmen players you get to see grow together and work off each other.’’
Jordan is impressed with Davis, a guard, because of her basketball IQ and all-round talents. She said DeShields, a wing or small forward, is more athletic. Davis agreed.
"I know Diamond is a heck of a lot faster than I am,’’ Davis said. “I know that I would never be able to outrun that girl.’’
DeShields’ athleticism is what draws the comparisons to Moore, who could dunk a basketball in high school.
“When people say I could be better than Maya Moore and [former Tennessee All-American] Candace Parker, I’m like, I’m not there yet,’’ DeShields said. “It just motivates me. It doesn’t give me a big head. It makes me feel like I actually can get there.’’
DeShields and Davis chose Norcross primarily to be coached by Hembree, who won two state titles at Collins Hill before Moore arrived.
Hembree left Collins Hill after Moore’s sophomore season to become an assistant at the University of Miami. Missing family, Hembree in2007 came back to Atlanta to coach at Norcross, which had not made the state playoffs since 1999.
“She coached Maya Moore, she’s won all these state championships, got USA Today’s team of the year, all this history,’’ DeShields said. “On top of that, she coached on a D-I college level. That’s big. She knows all the colleges, what you do, how to get us there.’’
Hembree says comparisons to Moore are not inappropriate.
“A comparison is a compliment,’’ Hembree said. "What they do with their talent and career is completely their own decision. Maya had her day and she’s having her day as a woman at the college level. A lot of people have potential. It’s what you do with it that makes a difference.’’