|This story originally published on BadgerNation.com|
MADISON - If there was any college coaching staff hesitant to offer 6-9 Whitefish Bay Dominican sophomore Diamond Stone, that certainly will think twice after watching the WIAA Division 4 state championship game.
Even though he was the tallest player on the court, Stone’s strength, athleticism and agility was on display in front of a packed crowd Saturday afternoon, as the 6-10 forward scored 22 points and hauled in 16 rebounds in a 57-44 victory over Auburndale.
Stone had eight points (4-for-4) in the first quarter with four rebounds, but was only getting started. On a 12-0 second-quarter run that gave Dominican control, Stone and Duane Wilson stole the show. Wilson, who had 26 points, would draw defender’s attention with drives to the paint and finish off to Stone for easy buckets.
Stone finished 11-of-17 from the field and helped Dominican score 38 points in the paint. On the flip side, his defense blocked or altered countless shots, as his team only allowed six points in the paint. “He was almost open every time you drive,” said Wilson, a Marquette commit who compliment Stone for growing as much as a person and a character as he did a basketball player.
“I just told him I am not throwing (any) bounce passes. They were all going to be above the rim. We was just jumping up there, getting dunks and he was open every single time … He just had a great game. He was dominating the paint.”
That point was emphasized at the end of the third quarter. Leading 41-36 with time winding down, Stone attacked the glass, rebounded his own miss three times and tipped in the bucket as time expired. He also showcased a solid drop step move, which gave him separation for some thunderous dunks.
“I was rolling,” said Stone. “They didn’t box me as much as other teams do, so I just got into position and scored the ball.”
Stone has been a dominant figure at the Kohl Center the past two seasons. In last year’s semifinals, Stone registered a triple-double - 15 points, 15 rebounds and a state-record 14 blocks – in his team’s 23 point win. In the championship game two days later, Stone scored nine points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance, grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and registered a game-high six blocks.
In a semifinal victory over Cuba City, Stone again filled the stat sheet with 10 points, seven blocks and nine rebounds.
“I think we’re going to see Stone playing in the pros some day,” said Auburndale coach Chad Weinfurter. “He’s not just a big kid. He knows how to play and is athletic. He stays in the lane and he takes your inside game away.”
Stone’s impact is noticeable, especially when he handles the ball, takes mid-range jump shots and executes his post defense to perfection.
“He’s gotten a lot stronger,” said Dominican coach Derek Berger. “He’s got guys hanging on him, pushing on him, (and) it doesn’t bother him (any) more. He’s mentally and physically stronger to be able to play through that and still finish at the rim.”
Holding offers from Arizona, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Indiana, Marquette, Texas A&M, UCLA and Wisconsin, Stone – ranked the top overall player in the 2015 recruiting class by Fox Sports Next - said Duke and Kentucky have started to show interest. They should be offering after this.
“All the colleges that have offered me are showing a lot of interest,” said Stone. “I don’t have a favorite or anything like that.”
Planning on focusing more on recruiting after the summer, Stone has been getting mentored on the recruiting process from Wilson, a four-star guard who picked the Golden Eagles over for other offers last March.
“He’s been guiding me,” said Stone. “He’s been showing me what he’s been through and giving me a head’s up. I am ready for it.”