The last month has been a whirlwind for Diamond Miller—an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament, the 2023 WNBA Draft, and her finals days as a student-athlete. But that didn’t stop the second overall pick from taking on her first post-draft challenge. Miller spent the weekend of April 14 at IMG Academy in Florida, a member of Kelsey Plum’s inaugural Dawg Class alongside some of the top amateur guards women’s basketball has to offer.
“It was just good vibes,” Miller said, “but obviously when we got on the court it was competitive, and everybody was there to work.” But it was like a camp, it was chill. Everyone was just having fun but competing at the same time.”
Plum, who was the first overall draft pick by the San Antonio Stars in 2017, announced Dawg Class in March as a mentorship program to help players bridge the gap between college and the professional game, complete with on-court skills sessions and off-court training and recovery. After six successful years in the league, Plum is the perfect person to prepare collegiate athletes for all the firsts they will encounter on their paths to the pros.
Miller was handpicked by Plum for her dawg mentality—her unwavering determination, resilience, and passion for the game—a mindset Miller learned from her parents.
“My parents both told me to work hard on and off the court,” she said. “They led me, but they let me figure it out as well.”
Eager to learn and keep her skills sharp, Miller said attending the camp gave her the chance to assess her play and gain a glimpse of what to expect in the WNBA.
“I definitely took this camp as an opportunity to see how I could play with and against Kelsey,” Miller said, “and I think overall it definitely gave me some confidence that I am capable of playing with [and against]really talented people. Obviously [Plum’s] really good, and she definitely got buckets on me, but overall I learned a lot, and I was happy I did it, for sure.”
At 6’3”, Miller has a height advantage over her fellow guards; known for her versatility and her two-way play, she’s always working to add more moves in her toolkit.
One skill in particular she’s learned and is anxious to incorporate into her game is a freeze step off the drive. Similar to a Euro step, it’s used as a change of pace to let the defense fly past the offensive player to ideally create more space for an open layup.
Off the court, Plum stressed the importance of players taking care of their mental health, ensuring they have someone to talk to and not taking on things out of their control. Miller experienced Maryland’s roster overhaul going into her senior season, which has potential parallels to her joining the Lynx and now having to find her fit on the floor with new teammates. She knows keeping a positive mindset is key for on-court success, and Dawg Class was a reminder to be intentional with that in the W as well.
“There’s changes around you that you can’t control, but what you can control is how you show up everyday—making sure you’re happy, making sure you love what you do, and making sure your mental health is okay.” Miller went on to note, “There’s always people in your circle that are your rocks…I have my sisters (Adreana and Laniya), my mom, my dad. Having those types of people around me was also very helpful.”
Plum was like the big sister of the camp, but Miller also had some wisdom to pass down to her fellow classmates on what it’s like to go from college to the W in a matter of weeks.
“They definitely asked me questions about the transitions, and I was like it’s quick,” she said and laughed. “No one really knows how quick it is until you’re in the midst of it, especially if you go farther in the tournament.”
She shared that it’s important to be present and take one thing at a time because, with everything happening at light speed, you don’t want to miss anything.
“Be prepared, but also enjoy the moment, and sometimes in that transition it’s hard to enjoy the moment because you’re stressed, thinking I gotta pack, I need an agent, I need an outfit, what team am I going to. But taking it one step at a time, it will work out.”
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Her Dawg classmates included North Carolina’s Deja Kelly, Utah’s Gianna Kneepkens, Notre Dame’s KK Bransford, South Carolina’s Raven Johnson, Texas’ Rori Harmon, UConn’s Azzi Fudd, former Louisville Cardinals star Hailey Van Lith, and Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore, who earned Dawg of the Camp honors.