KNOXVILLE - Redshirt junior Diamond DeShields will return to Tennessee for her final season of eligibility.
The Lady Vols guard announced her decision via a lengthy Instagram post Saturday night.
DeShields lauded Tennessee's incoming recruiting class, ranked no. 1 overall in the nation. They factored heavily into her decision to stay, with DeShields writing she has an opportunity to be a "big sister" to them.
"Developing my game further and playing for championship(s) are always a part of the ideal plan," DeShields wrote. "But giving these four young ladies an opportunity to be themselves, make mistakes, and still have the love they need and deserve is the first priority."
Tennessee's incoming recruiting class includes McDonald's All-Americans Evina Westbrook, Anastasia Hayes, Kasi Kushkituah and Rennia Davis.
DeShields compared them to her freshman class the University of North Carolina, her former college, who were also among the nation's best.
"My heart smiles now because I see this as a second chance," DeShields wrote. "A chance to do things the right way, and be the example that I never had."
Tennessee's roster went from questionably thin to loaded in the weeks following its loss to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament. Both DeShields and redshirt junior Mercedes Russell projected as first round draft picks in the WNBA. Many media outlets favored DeShields to go first overall in the draft, and expected her to forgo her senior season.
However, DeShields wrote she stood behind her decision to forgo the draft "100 percent."
"I'm coming back to build and nurture this family that I love so dearly," DeShields wrote. "My love for UT is unending and this is what I see as my 'divine appointment.'"
DeShields played in 29 games for the Lady Vols during the 2016-2017 season, averaging 17.4 points per game and shooting 42.3 percent from the field. DeShields made the Coaches All-SEC First Team and the AP All-SEC Second Team.
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