Skylar Diggins shrugs when asked of the weighty expectations for her and fellow WNBA draftmates Brittney Griner and Elena Della Donne.
“We haven’t even finished college yet,” Diggins told theGrio this week. “We’re still trying to figure it out too.”
Lost in the epic nature of how many characterize Diggins’ future, is how it’s actually all going to play out.
That’s why they play the game.
Diggins, selected third overall by the Tulsa Shock in Monday night’s draft, has visions of WNBA success and possible endorsements down the road. But the Notre Dame starting point guard said she thinks it starts with one word.
Connecting with fans
“I think it starts with being available,” Diggins said. “As far as [being available] in the community — and really trying to promote the league and really, being available to the fans.”
Her name is definitely out there.
Playing and leading her team to three Final Fours while at Notre Dame remains her “proudest” moment. Her competitive style of play and leadership was infectious, skills which prompted Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw to offer her a scholarship when she was in eighth grade.
“I hadn’t played a lick of high school of basketball yet,” Diggins laughs. “I wasn’t that good. [McGraw] took a chance. But that’s when I was like ‘Wow, I can play at the next level.'”
Diggins has already taken her new role as WNBA ambassador seriously. To her credit, she actively worked to promote women’s college basketball — the unwritten rule and responsibility usually of the game’s greats. But the stakes are higher now as a professional.
The South Bend native lists Tamika Catchings as someone she admires for her work as both an athlete and supporter role model.
“I think now it’s just our job,” Diggins said of her role extending beyond the court. “What people want to see is good basketball. So you can’t be so focused on peripheral events to where it takes away from your game, because ultimately that’s what’s going to sell. You have to have something to back up the talk with.”
The last three seasons, the Shock haven’t backed up much of anything. But that could change very quickly.
“I’m a very emotional player,” said Diggins, who adds her goal is to make the playoffs. “We’re going to play some good basketball and when you leave the game, you’re going to come back for another game.”
The WNBA season begins on Friday, May 24.
Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj