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Sky's The Limit: Shock Snags A Winner With Diggins

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TULSA -

Skylar Diggins could barely contain the excitement in her voice. The Tulsa Shock had just fulfilled her dream of playing in the WNBA, selecting Diggins with the No. 3 overall pick in Monday night's draft.

"It was surreal, such a great moment, and I'm so blessed," Diggins said during a teleconference Monday night. "It was a dream come true and I'm so proud to now be a part of the league that I grew up watching and paved the way for me."

Tulsa made it clear in the offseason they were focused on drafting Diggins, allowing their top two point guards — and scorers — Ivory Latta and Temeka Johnson to sign with other teams. This fact wasn't lost on Diggins, but instead of looking at herself as the team's savior, she's viewing herself as a complement to the veterans Tulsa already has on the roster.

"I think Coach Klop (Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenberg) understands my strength is getting in a position where I can create for my teammates, and he put some great shooters around me and some great scorers around me," Diggins said. "You have players like Kayla Pederson who can work the pick and pop a little bit and then you have other players like Glory Johnson who runs the floor so well.

"I think Coach Klop did a great job of surrounding me with shooters and putting me in a position to be successful."

Diggins, a South Bend, Ind., native, is no stranger to success, having achieved it at every level in her basketball career.

In high school, she led her team to four consecutive berths in the Indiana 4A championship. While at Notre Dame, Diggins rewrote the Fighting Irish record book, holding or sharing 32 records and ranking in the top five of an incredible 105 school records. The Irish have also been to three straight Final Fours with Diggins at the helm.

The Shock have experienced no such success the past three seasons, but that isn't scaring Diggins away, or causing her to dread feeling the sting of defeat more often than she's become accustomed to. In fact, Diggins is ready to bring some of that winning culture with her to Tulsa.

"I think that a lot of these players have the same work ethic I do," Diggins said when asked how she would share her winning attitude with the Shock. "When we come together, it's going to be great. So really, just doing what I can and challenging my teammates and making sure we're getting better everyday."

Diggins' fandom has led to the development of a deep respect for the veterans of the league, players she will now be entrusted to lead and direct on the floor in Tulsa. However, the respect she has for those who have gone before her will not be simply pushed to the side in favor of her leadership position.

"You have to come in with a level of respect for the players who came before you and kind of paved the way for you," Diggins explained. "I know I want to come in there being a leader, but at the same time, you have to respect the other players and what they've done. Within a matter of minutes I went from being a fan to wearing a different hat and becoming teammates."

One of those teammates is Candice Wiggins, a Stanford product whom Tulsa traded for in the offseason. Diggins is good friends with Wiggins, a relationship that goes back to Wiggins' days at Stanford.

"She's one of my best friends," Diggins said. "We became really good friends and she's really taught me the ins and outs of college basketball and she's somebody I really grew up admiring at Stanford.

"Having Candice there, just a familiar face, I know at least one person will welcome me with open arms."

Diggins has never been to Tulsa; she hasn't even been to Oklahoma. She has never owned a pair of cowboy boots, but said she's looking forward to purchasing her first pair. She's lived in South Bend for most of her life so you'll have to excuse her limited knowledge of the Sooner State.

"Well, I heard the steaks are good," Diggins said. "This is going to be a new experience for me, and I'm hoping as I continue to spend my time there I'll learn more about the city, and that's what I'm most looking forward to."

Diggins is thrilled to be fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing professional basketball. The city of Tulsa should be thrilled as well, having acquired the star player the Shock needed to lead a solid group of role players into the future. With Diggins leading the Shock on the court, it won't be long before her most undeniable characteristic comes shining through: winning.

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