Texas State senior guard Diamond Ford is a sublime competitor.
“You couldn’t stop her,” Ford’s teammate, junior guard Jasmine Baugus said of the Houston native’s 40-point game Dec. 29, 2012 against San Jose State. “She was in her zone. She wouldn’t even look at you. She would hear what you’re saying, but she wasn’t even looking at you while you were talking.”
Baugus said she only saw people lock in like that “…on TV,” but to “…see that in person — that was good.”
Ford is a role model, albeit unconsciously.
When the Bobcats go out for team meals, freshman guard Ayriel Anderson orders the same thing as Ford.
“Every time we go to a restaurant: she orders shrimp and fries, I get shrimp and fries,” Anderson said. “Sometimes I just say, ‘Same as Diamond,’ because I don’t like looking at the menu — and she eats good, so I put that down.”
Above all, Ford is a fighter.
“What the most special thing for me, about coaching a young woman like Diamond and getting to know Diamond over the last few years, is that she’s taken a long road to get here,” Texas State head coach Zenarae Antoine said. “Being a young woman from Houston and having to fight the different battles she had to, just to get to college, is really important.
“It’s an American story: ‘A kid from the Wards finds a way to get to a good high school (Hightower) … then get here to Texas State — to make it collegiately and to lead two different conferences in scoring — you couldn’t write a better script for a better young woman and a family.”
Without basketball, college probably wouldn’t be in Ford’s plans, let alone being the first person from her mom’s side of the family to graduate from college or finding her way out of the notoriously dangerous Third Ward of Houston.
“When I was in high school, they (my parents) always used to tell me that, ‘If you keep doing this (playing basketball) and you do well, you can get a scholarship,’ and I knew my parents weren’t going to be able to pay for me to go to school,” Ford said. “I knew that if I got a basketball scholarship, it would be less stressful for both of my parents.”
Ford followed her parents’ advice and starred at Hightower High. As a senior, Ford averaged 17.2 points per game and had four Division-I offers at her disposal come signing day (Arkansas-Little Rock, South Florida, Stephen F. Austin and Texas State).
Even though Ford had until mid-November to decide, she made up her mind at least a month earlier.
“On my birthday (Oct. 4) Diamond gave me a present: she committed to be a Bobcat,” said former Texas State head coach Suzanne Fox, who resigned following the 2010-11 season and now works in the school’s compliance office. “Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
“I knew from watching her play in high school and on the AAU circuit, she had the offensive skill set to be an elite player and that she would have a chance to be one of the great scorers in school history.”
Fast forward four years and — with at least three games to go in her final season — Ford owns two of the five best single-season scoring marks (fourth and fifth) and is fourth all-time. Should Ford score 57 points between tonight’s game with Utah State and whenever the Bobcats’ run ends in the postseason, she’ll pass Carlotta Fisbeck’s single-season record of 633, which was set during the 1969-70 season, and overtake Tori Talbert and Shelby Borton on the all-time chart, leaving her second behind Linda Muelker.
“I came in looking forward to doing big things, but I didn’t think it would be these kinds of accomplishments,” said Ford, who averages 21.4 points per game. “I’m really proud of myself for those things that I’ve been able to do.”
Ford already joined Muelker in a select group of Texas State women’s basketball players to have two different spots on the single-season chart and be Top 5 all-time. So why not hand Ford a bid to another special fraternity to which Muelker belongs in the rafters of Strahan Coliseum, alongside Lewis Gilcrease and Vernon McDonald?
“Then you’re talking about a true legend,” Antoine said in reference to retiring Ford’s number, “and setting a legacy for the future.”
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