Diamond Smith signs with Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Published 12:16 am Saturday, April 16, 2016

FAYETTE — Diamond Smith was all smiles Friday morning.

Family, coaches, administrators and friends alike packed a small classroom at Jefferson County High School to show their support as the 6-foot-3 basketball star signed college scholarship papers with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Smith said she chose the Lady Wolfpack over offers from Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Jackson State and a slew of other junior college programs across the country.

Email newsletter signup

“(Girls basketball coach Flora) McKnight has been taking me to camps there ever since the sixth grade,” Smith said. “I just think it’s a great environment to be around.”

Smith averaged 17 points, 11 blocks and 10 rebounds this season in helping lead Lady Tigers this season to a 25-4 record and a Region 7-3A championship.

“She is ready for the next level,” McKnight said. “She will learn more, but Diamond can step in immediately and play at a high level. She’s going to a super program.”

Copiah-Lincoln has historically produced strong women’s teams, including a No. 16 NJCAA ranking to end the 2014-2015 season.

“It’s a good basketball program,” Smith said. “They have a good coach (Gwyn Young). I’m starting off fresh at a two-year college, and it’s going to be great for me.”

Friday’s signing culminates a successful comeback for Smith, as the towering center has rebounded from an ACL tear her sophomore season. Smith exuded her dominance over the next two seasons, leading the Lady Tigers to semifinal and quarterfinal appearances in the MHSAA Class 3A playoffs the last two seasons, respectively.

“This means a lot to me,” Smith said. “I’ve been through the storm, but I’m coming up. I just try to put everything in the hands of the Lord, and I know everything will be alright.”

McKnight said Smith is the eleventh college-bound signee in her tenure at the school, noting it gets sweeter each and every time.

“It’s a very exciting day,” McKnight said. “So many coaches — from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida — came to our gym to see her play,” McKnight said. “It’s just a great feeling.”

Although the season did not end as the Tigers had hoped, McKnight said she would not have had it any other way with this class.

“We’ve had some good runs, and I wouldn’t change this team for anything,” McKnight said. “I just couldn’t leave them. I just stay with them, and I will continue to stay with them.”

Smith said wherever her talents may take her, she will always remember her time at Jefferson County and the relationships she established along the way.

“I’m going to remember my crazy teammates, and the days we had in practice,” Smith said. “I’m going to remember the days we fussed and fought with each other, and the days that we just had good times. We didn’t only play basketball together; we had a bond outside of school.”

Smith was named The Natchez Democrat’s All-Metro MVP the last two seasons.