Neumann-Goretti senior guard Diamond Johnson is hurt and confused.
Regarded as the sixth-ranked prep girls basketball player in the country by ESPN and other web sites, Johnson thought she was ticketed to being selected to the 2020 McDonald’s All-American Girls Basketball team.
The 19th annual Girls Game and the 43rd annual Boys Game will be played on April 1 at the Toyota Center in Houston. ESPN2 and ESPN will telecast the McDonald’s All-American Games live. The Girls Game will air on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. The Boys Game will immediately follow on ESPN at 7 p.m.
Johnson, who has committed to Rutgers University and its legendary Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer, was mysteriously omitted from the team that was announced last week.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Johnson, the reigning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year for Pennsylvania. “When I found out I didn’t make it, I was mad. I really was. I just knew that I had made the team.
“It was something that I had dreamt about. I was looking forward to it. I wanted to play against the best and the McDonald’s game would’ve been that game. It would’ve been a great game for me.”
Neumann-Goretti girl’s basketball head coach Andrea Peterson is also angry and miffed that Johnson is not on the team.
“How can you have a McDonald’s All-American team and not have her on it is beyond me,” Peterson said. “I know there is a selection committee, but if she’s one of the best in the country, how can she be left off team? I really don’t understand it.
“I want the people who selected the team to know that they made a big mistake in not selecting Diamond. She’s got a community and a whole city behind her. She should be on that team.”
No one connected with the McDonald’s All-American team was available for comment.
A diamond is regarded as the hardest known material in the world and Diamond Johnson’s devotion to basketball is equally as solid. To date, the 5-foot-6 scoring machine has scored 2,576 career points. She has broken the previous city girls high school scoring record of 2,501 set by Shawnetta Stewart of University City. Stewart is in the Rutgers Hall of Fame.
She should pass the overall city mark of 2,681 set by Strawberry Mansion’s Maurice Rice and there is an outside shot she could better the overall Southeastern Pennsylvania high school scoring record of 2,883 set by the late Kobe Bryant of Lower Merion.
“I know those numbers,” Johnson said. “I have a chance at [bettering] them.”
Johnson is more than a gifted basketball player. She’s an honor student and mentors kids after school. Philadelphia native and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Dawn Staley, the University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach, admires Johnson’s play. She has reportedly said that Johnson is more developed as an offensive player than she was while attending Murrell Dobbins Tech.
Johnson plays hard and wants to get better. She thrives on competition and never backs down from a challenge. But some challenges, like being selected to the McDonald’s All-American team, are difficult to overcome.
“I’m not going to let this stop me,” she said. “I’m going to use this as motivation. I’m going to play as hard as I can to show that I should’ve made that team.”