After ACL injury, Penn Hills’ Whittington prepares to play at college level

Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 11:18 PM

At a young age, Penn Hills senior Diamond-Jay Whittington was introduced to the game of basketball by her father. Now, after a bout of adversity, Whittington gets to continue to play the game at the collegiate level.

After a strong sophomore season, Whittington tore the ACL in her right knee during a fall league game during her junior season.

She went through the rehabilitation process and returned her senior season, contributing to a Penn Hills team that made a deep WPIAL playoff run, finishing 17-8.

With her high school basketball career complete, Whittington turned her focus toward her future. She decided to commit to La Roche last Tuesday.

“What made me decide on La Roche was Coach Kam. I loved her passion, and I loved her personality. She’s a great coach and someone I can trust. They have a great team. I feel like they were the best choice for me,” Whittington said.

La Roche, led by coach Kamela Gissendanner, finished 16-9 overall and 15-3 in the AMCC. Whittington visited La Roche on March 19.

The Redhawks’ season came to a close after a 57-56 loss to Penn State Behrend in the semifinals of the Division III AMCC Tournament on Feb. 23.

“They’re getting a very smart player. She’s somebody that can put the ball in the hole,” Penn Hills coach Robert Cash said. “La Roche is getting a fully-rounded player that can do different things, and she will be a really good player for them for the next four years.”

Penn Hills lost to Chartiers Valley, 45-37, in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals Feb. 27. In the state playoffs, the Indians lost to Oakland Catholic, 39-27, in the second round March 13.

Whittington is the fourth member of the Penn Hills girls basketball program who will play basketball at the collegiate level next year. Whittington joins guard Adia Brisker (Niagara), forward Tayonna Robertson (Longwood) and Ariana Dunson (Cal, Pa.).

“We all brought a lot of talent to the table. We brought a lot of chemistry because we’ve been playing together since the third grade. We wanted to be the best that we could be,” Whittington said.

Whittington, who played for the Western PA Bruins AAU program, started to play basketball in the third grade, but her father, Eugene Wilson, introduced the game to Whittington early in her life.

Wilson, who was a four-year scholarship player at Pitt-Johnstown and also played semi-pro basketball, is Baldwin’s boys basketball coach. Wilson previously coached at Westinghouse and Wilkinsburg.

After suffering the ACL injury, Whittington learned a lot about herself, and her love for the game was tested.

“Through the whole process, I learned that you have to work hard. Not everything is going to be given to you,” Whittington said.

Whittington continues to work to get herself back to the level of play she was at before the injury. She is looking to continue on improving her shot and regain her explosiveness.

The guard said the Redhawks coaching staff is looking for her to be willing to take more shots.

“I feel like this is a blessing to have someone like Coach Kam in my life. She’s a very compassionate person. I want to thank God for this opportunity to still be able to play,” Whittington said.

“Things didn’t go as planned for me, but God has something in store for me. I’m just grateful to be able to continue to play.”


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