King Center community pays tribute to Diggins
SOUTH BEND -- Eager youngsters wearing red t-shirts emblazoned with thephrase, "Can you Digg it?" set up a tunnel on the basketball court atthe Martin Luther King Jr. Center on Thursday night.
And when former Notre Dame and Washington High School star SkylarDiggins started her signature hop and skip through the tunnel, dishingout high-fives, the King Center erupted with a thunderous roar tostart the send-off for Diggins to the WNBA and the Tulsa Shock.
Diggins, who was drafted No. 3 overall in the first round by theShock, heads to Tulsa on Friday. Her first practice will be onSaturday, and the Shock play an exhibition game on May 9. Tulsa opensthe season on May 25 at Atlanta. Diggins and the Shock will playagainst Chicago on Sunday, June 2, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont,Ill. The Shock play in Indianapolis against the defending WNBAchampion Indiana Fever on Friday, June 28, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"This is a special time in my life, and I'm happy to share it with thepeople of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, where it all started,"Diggins said.
The crowd included players on The Soldiers youth basketball teamsbased at the King Center and members of the King Center community.
Diggins, who was being followed by an NBA TV crew for a documentarythat will start online at NBA.com and be televised at a later date,signed autographs and posed for pictures.
Diggins emphasized that her South Bend send-off was a celebration, andshe returned the outpouring of love with her own words of affectionfor the King Center community.
"I don't want this to be sad," Diggins said. "This is not good bye.This is see you later. It's a thank you for all of the support you'vegiven me. The success I've had is a direct reflection of you."
A 5-foot-9 point guard, Diggins shattered records at Notre Dame andSouth Bend's Washington High School after honing her skills at theKing Center, where her step-father, Moe Scott, is the director.
"I spent a lot of time here," Diggins said. "The Martin Luther KingCenter has been such a big part of my life. This is where it allstarted. It means so much to me. The people in this community havealways been so supportive of me. It's so meaningful for me to have mySouth Bend send-off here."
A 5-foot-9 point guard, Diggins led Notre Dame to three Final Fourappearances and Washington to four consecutive appearances in theIndiana high school state championship game. A two-time consensusAll-American, Diggins owns or shares 32 records at Notre Dame,including career points (2,357), steals (381), games started (144) anddouble-figure scoring games (121). She's the only Notre Damebasketball player (either gender) to score 2,000 points and have at
least 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals.
Diggins, known as a student of the game, will have a quick learningcurve with Tulsa.
"I did not get a playbook," Diggins said. "It's kind of like USABasketball, where you get six days to prepare and then you play."
Diggins has experienced a whirlwind since the Irish ended the seasonon April 7, getting drafted, wrapping up her degree, and signing withJay-Z's Roc Nation, a sports firm that is associated with CreativeArtists Agency.
Diggins wouldn't say what the Roc Nation marketing will lead to forher, but that she will have some creative say. The new firm alsosigned Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and Robinson Cano of the NewYork Yankees.
"I'm very excited about being a part of ROC," Diggins said. "It's ayoung, exciting organization. I'm proud to be the first woman signedby Roc."
Diggins' mother, Renee Scott, and her father, Moe Scott, workedtirelessly at the King Center to set up the event. Balloons in Tulsa'sred, yellow and black colors and Shock banners adorned the KingCenter, and a DJ piped in tribute music.
"We wanted Skylar to be where it all started for her," Moe Scott said."It started at Martin Luther King Center. We wanted the community andespecially the kids to understand that she made it, and they can makeit. She once stood in their shoes."
Staff writer Curt Rallo: