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Norcross DuoAntonio Davis' daughter, Kaela, and Delino DeShields' daughter, Diamond, have famous fathers in common. But the Norcross freshmen are making their own names on the basketball court.
It's almost as if Kaela Davis and Diamond DeShields were meant to be friends.
With birthdays just 10 days apart and both the products of professional athlete fathers, the girls bonded quickly when they met on the basketball court. And while both stand at 6-feet-2 as 14-year-olds, they often get mistaken for twins, most amusing because Davis has a twin brother.
"Whenever we check into hotels or something, people are like, 'Look at the twins,' " DeShields said. "Her brother's like, 'But I'm the twin.' "
"People call us the Davis triplets," Davis said.
One of their quick bonding factors was an understanding of what it's like to have a famous father. But the freshmen at Norcross (Ga.) High School are starting to no longer be recognized as just "Antonio Davis' daughter" or "Delino DeShields' daughter." Instead, they are making a name for themselves on the basketball court. As quickly and loudly as when DeShields chased down St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.) senior Alle Moreno on a fast break and smacked her full palm against the backboard in a late attempt to block the shot.
"Diamond right now is just pure athleticism," said coach Angie Hembree, whose team is 21-3 entering next week's regional playoffs. "She's got a lot to learn. The thing about kids with an incredible amount of God-given talent is you can only ride that for so long, then you have to become a complete player."
Hembree has guided a few special players during her career, most notably at Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.), where she coached Maya Moore as a freshman and sophomore. Now in her third season at Norcross, she's been blessed with a few more talented players, including the freshmen duo and senior Briana Jordan, a 5-6 point guard bound for Tennessee Tech and the daughter of former NFL player Brian Jordan.
But much of the attention at Norcross now is focused solely on Davis and DeShields, who spent the summer making headlines with their AAU team, the Georgia Ice. Antonio Davis coached the team to an AAU 13-and-under championship and sections full of college coaches. Teammates included Alexis Brown, the daughter of Dee Brown, and Taryn Griffey, daughter of Ken Griffey Jr.
"We're just inseparable," DeShields said. "She's like my sister. We have a lot in common. She's my best friend."
"We just clicked right away," Davis said. "She stayed with me pretty much the whole summer, never went home. Me and Diamond, we're cool. We're always together."
Davis comes from a family truly blessed with athletic genetics. Father Antonio Davis, the 6-9 former NBA player and president of the NBA Player's Association, has four children who are either playing Division I sports or are destined for the ranks. Antoinette Davis, a 5-11 junior at Stephen F. Austin, and Annette Davis, a 6-1 freshman at Kansas, are her older basketball-playing half-sisters, while 6-7 twin brother A.J. is a budding football and basketball star.
"Kaela is incredibly talented," Hembree said. "She's extremely savvy on the floor, knows the game, understands the game."
While Davis plays older than her age, her talent and composure making onlookers think she's a junior or a senior, DeShields' isn't far behind, her speed giving her an advantage over many players on the court.
DeShields came to Norcross from 3A Woodward Academy, where she played with Vanderbilt freshman Elan Brown. After Brown graduated and DeShields bonded with Davis, her family moved to Norcross before her freshman year of high school. Also a talented track star, she competes in the high jump, triple jump, 4x100 relay and 100 hurdles, a handful of events well suited for her speed and agility. But she doesn't get all of her athleticism from dad, who turned down a basketball scholarship at Villanova for what ended up to be a 13-year professional baseball career. Her mother, known then as Tisha Milligan, was an All-American at Tennessee in the heptathlon.
"Last year, I didn't even know it, but I set a national record for my age group [in the hurdles]," DeShields said. "I was kind of surprised, because basketball's my main sport. I feel like I can't be a benefit to schools in track because my focus is on basketball."
She hasn't ruled out the possibility of a two-sport college career, but maintains that basketball is her main love.
"I just love knowing that I'm doing something right [when I step on the court]," DeShields said. "It's a great feeling. The only thing you can do is get better. And there's people out there that are actually watching you."