NCAAW: Maryland star Diamond Miller could be WNBA Draft lottery pick

The breakup of the core of the Maryland Terrapins was one of the biggest stories in women’s basketball this past summer. The once-mighty Terrapins, who had been by most measures the Big Ten’s most successful program since joining the conference in 2014, lost both ball-handling wizard Ashley Owusu and athletic forward Angel Reese to the transfer portal, bringing what many hoped to be the ascent of a Final Four-caliber roster to a premature end.

The third notable member of that core, 6-foot-3 wing Diamond Miller, remains at Maryland, though she’s overcoming a good deal of adversity herself. A long-limbed perimeter scorer whose physical gifts were a key component of the Terrapins’ fast-paced offensive philosophy, Miller looked to be well on her way to becoming one of the best players in the country after an outstanding sophomore season. She struggled, however, to stay on the court as a junior, missing a good chunk of Maryland’s games with a nagging knee injury that clearly affected her performance. She eventually needed surgery this past April.

While Maryland was able to add a few high-profile transfers to replace its losses — Lavender Briggs (who previously attended Florida), Abby Meyers (Princeton) and Brinae Alexander (Vanderbilt) top the list — it will be up to Miller to lead the Terrapins as a senior while also proving that she’s healthy again.

They’re lofty goals, certainly, but if Miller is able to bounce back from her injury-plagued junior campaign while keeping the Terrapins competitive in a wide-open Big Ten, the payoff could be massive. Entering the 2022-23 NCAA season, the top of the 2023 WNBA Draft board has yet to truly be solidified, and Miller has the physical gifts to be taken early in the draft if she returns to form as a senior. Let’s look at what makes her a special player.

Honors and statistics

Miller was ranked as the No. 17 overall recruit (No. 5 guard) in the class of 2019 by ESPN HoopGurlz. She was named a McDonald’s All-American, as well as Gatorade State Player of the Year and New Jersey Player of the Year by USA Todayas a high school senior in 2019.

At Maryland, Miller spent much of her freshman season playing behind Kaila Charles on the wing, averaging 7.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game. With Charles graduating and getting drafted into the WNBA in 2020, Miller broke out as a sophomore, scoring 17.3 points per game as a full-time starter and shooting 50.6 percent from the field. She was named to the All-Big Ten First Team for her efforts, following it up with an All-Big Ten Second Team nomination as a junior.

Entering her senior season, Miller was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Teamas well as the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award watch list, which is for the country’s top shooting guards. Miller was also named to the 2023 preseason watch list for the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophyone of the many awards given annually to the top basketball player in the country.

Internationally, Miller has been competing for USA Basketball since 2017, when she won a gold medal in the FIBA ​​Americas U16 Championship. She also won gold with Team USA in the 2019 FIBA ​​U19 World Cup and, most recently, the 2021 FIBA ​​AmeriCup alongside other members of the 2023 WNBA Draft class such as Aliyah Boston, Haley Jones and Grace Berger.

Miller poised to lead new-look Terrapins

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Maryland vs. Iowa

Miller’s wingspan and long strides make her a major threat attacking the basket.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The immediate and obvious appeal of Miller as a WNBA prospect has to do with her size as a perimeter player. At 6-foot-3, Miller has a physical advantage over almost every one of her individual matchups as soon as she takes the court, and her end-to-end speed makes it a tough task for anyone who can match her height of her to stay in front of her.

Combined with an effective hesitation dribble and the ability to go either left or right off the bounce, Miller’s wingspan and long strides allow her to finish at the basket in unique and exciting ways that are simply not possible for most other perimeter scorers at the collegiate level . If she does n’t get past her defender off the dribble, she has a step-through move in her bag, too, which helps her cover a lot of ground and makes her a threat to finish from nearly anywhere in the paint . Check out some of Miller’s best finishes at the rim from her junior season:

Miller’s strengths attacking the basketball were on full display in a Maryland system that emphasized pushing the basketball as often as possible. Per Synergy Sports, in Miller’s first three seasons at Maryland, the Terrapins ranked in the 99th, 98th and 94th percentile in transition frequency, respectively. Miller herself has been one of the most prolific open-court players in the country during that span, recording a whopping 34 percent of her own possessions of her in transition.

As Miller works her way back to full health — and as the Terrapins adjust their own identity — she’ll be tasked with diversifying her game. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese will be placing an emphasis on “positionless” basketball during the 2022-23 season in an attempt to mitigate her roster’s lack of size in the frontcourt. She doesn’t want her players to be “pigeonholed” and says that the Terrapins will continue to emphasize pace while also insinuating that they may struggle to rebound the basketball.

The opportunity couldn’t be more perfect for Miller to re-establish herself as one of the best players in the nation. She’ll have every opportunity to continue scoring as she always has, especially playing with the increased floor spacing that typically comes with positionless basketball; should the other areas of Miller’s game, rebounding in particular, catch up with what she already excels at, there’s a good chance she won’t fall past lottery range in the 2023 WNBA Draft.

Watch her play

Miller and the Terrapins face their biggest challenge early in the season when they take on the defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday at 6 pm ET (ESPN2). Maryland will be looking to avenge last season’s 66-59 losses to South Carolina, a game in which Miller did not play due to injury. Other intriguing non-conference matchups for Maryland include Baylor (Nov. 20; ESPN+), DePaul (Nov. 25; FS2), Notre Dame (Dec. 1; ESPN2) and UConn (Dec. 11; ABC).

As for the Terrapins’ Big Ten schedulethey’ll have a pair of nationally-televised games in early February: Feb. 2 against the Iowa Hawkeyes (ESPN) and Feb. 5 against the Ohio State Buckeyes (ESPN2). All other Big Ten games can be either watched on the Big Ten Network or streamed using the Big Ten Plus app.

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