Not only is he named after one of the hardest materials on earth; he has the mental and physical prowess to match it.
A 6-10 five-star prospect who many tout as the top ranked center in the Class of 2015, Diamond Stone has been just as unbreakable on the hardwood as the powerful rock his first and last name cleverly delineate—while also applying that same kind of sturdy approach to the mental aspect of his game after overcoming early criticism in his career.
The uncommitted senior, who’s cut his list to four schools (Wisconsin, UConn, Maryland and Oklahoma State) and plans to announce in the spring, gained national notoriety after blowing up toward the end of his eighth grade year at the 2011 John Lucas Camp. There, while competing against America’s best middle schoolers, he returned home as one of the top rising post players. Yet many of his peers in the Milwaukee area didn’t quite share the same sentiment.
“I come back and some people are talking bad about me, saying I shouldn’t be where I’m at,” he recalls. “Many were like, ‘Of course you’re good at basketball, you’re tall.’ But they didn’t know how hard it was for me to get there. The criticism was challenging. People tearing you down but then wanting to get closer to you now. It’s just bumps on the road, though.”
Today, such chatter is nonexistent, as he finds himself on the cusp of history. After helping lead Dominican High to state championships in all of his first three years, including last year’s title run where he averaged 24.2 points and 13.2 rebounds as a junior and recorded 28 points, 11 boards and 8 blocks in the title game, he’s one state crown away from an unprecedented feat.
According to Stone’s dad Robert, who played college ball at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, four-peating would make his son the first player in state history to do so while being a major contributor in each of the titles. (A player from the town of Randall is said to have also won four titles but didn’t have much of a role as a freshman.) Stone, on the other hand, has had his presence felt since day one, averaging 13.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg as a ninth grader while posting 16.9 and 11.6 as a sophomore.
“It will be a major milestone for me,” says the blue chipper of what’s at stake this season, which he kicked off with a massive 33-point, 22-rebound performance in the opener. “That would mean a lot, especially for a kid who many people thought would never be where I am. So I’m just going to leave it all out there this year.”
He is also said to have been the first Milwaukee native to play on the USA Basketball Men’s developmental teams, leading the U16 and U17 squads to FIBA gold medals.
Stone closely studies the film of DeMarcus Cousins, whom his game is often compared to, and he’s become a top priority for all collegiate programs interested in his recruitment. With the process becoming overwhelming at times, Stone has decided to focus strictly on the season and his academics while his parents help him navigate the recruiting trail.
And so while a diamond stone may be known as a girl’s best friend, for the four college coaches anxiously awaiting this stud’s decision, it may be the only name standing between landing the nation’s top ranked center or having to go back to the mines in search of another.
Franklyn Calle is an Assistant Editor at SLAM. Follow him on Twitter @FrankieC7.
portraits by Chris Razoyk