Diggins thrived under the discipline, in an environment in which achievement was expected. "When Skylar was little, we were playing Connect Four, and she refused to quit until she beat me," says Moe, who is the director of the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in South Bend and the girls' basketball coach at Washington High, where he coached Diggins in her senior season. "We played 20 times, and she kept demanding, 'Let's play again. It's not over until I win.' At that moment I realized this kid is going to be competitive with everything she does."
Says Renee, "Maurice handled everything with athletics, and I handed the discipline and academics. We knew what she was capable of, and we were not going to accept anything less than what we knew she was able to do."
Renee and Moe, whom Skylar calls Daddy Moe, have been together since Skylar was three; they married in 1997. They have a 13-year-old son Maurice (known as Junior), who is a sweet-shooting lefty point guard like his sister. Skylar's father, Tige Diggins, an owner of a construction drywall business in Tampa, is remarried with two young boys. Basketball brings all of them together, and it's not uncommon for dozens of Digginses and Scotts to sit en masse when Skylar plays.
As a kid Skylar spent most of her free time with Moe at the MLK Center, where she used the courts and workout room as her own training facility. By age nine she was starring on AAU teams coached by Moe and had developed a reputation as the best young player in the area. McGraw offered Skylar a scholarship when she was in eighth grade—the first and likely the last time, McGraw says, she will do that for a player.
With Diggins running the point, Washington High won the Class 4A state title in 2007 and was the runner-up in '06, '08 and '09. Diggins was also a star in the classroom; her 3.91 GPA ranked sixth in her class. She was recruited by all the women's basketball powers and didn't make her decision between finalists Stanford and Notre Dame until the morning the signing period ended in November 2008. "For us to let someone of that stature get away," says McGraw, "it would have been a real serious blow to our program." Season tickets increased by 1,500 before Diggins's freshman year, and in '10--11 Notre Dame broke its single-season attendance record, drawing 8,553 fans per game.
Diggins is strong off the dribble and has a quick, accurate (43.5%) pull-up jumper when defenders cheat toward the basket. Opposing players say that it's hard to read her game—especially because she's lefthanded—and that she's exceptionally skilled at drawing fouls. This off-season Diggins worked on improving her three-point shooting and dedicated herself in the weight room, lifting beside the strongest player on the team, Novosel.
"You can't double her too much because their other guards are such good scorers," says UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "And as her jump shot has gotten better, it forces you to come up on her, and she's so good at going by you."
McGraw, who has coached Notre Dame since 1987, compares Diggins's star power with that of Irish quarterback Brady Quinn (2003--06). But Quinn didn't attend school in the age of Twitter, and if social media is a metric of popularity, Diggins is the most popular women's basketball player ever. She is closing in on 125,000 Twitter followers, and based on Tweetscenter, a site that attempts to measure the most-popular athletes on Twitter, she ranks fifth among athletes, ahead of Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard and just behind LeBron James.
Her fame exploded last year at the Final Four, when rap star Lil Wayne (nearly four million followers) gave her a shoutout on Twitter before Notre Dame's win over UConn. ("Good lukk to my wife Skylar Diggins and the Fighting Irish.") R&B star Chris Brown followed with his own love nod: "Skylar Diggins ... She's a cutie @skydigg4 congrats beautiful."
If McGraw worries about anything with Diggins, it's the preoccupation with her appearance. "She's a beautiful girl, a great basketball player, a great student and a great person, so I'm not surprised that the cameras focus on her," McGraw says. "But it bothers me a little bit that there is a superficial content to it. Lil Wayne and some of these guys look at her without even knowing her. And knowing her is the best part."