DePaul’s All-American: Diana Vines

Diana Vines poses for the cover of the media guide for the 1988-89 basketball season.
Diana Vines poses for the cover of the media guide for the 1988-89 basketball season. (Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)
On Feb. 14, 1989, DePaul basketball player Diana Vines scored two free throw shots in a game against Valparaiso University. This was not a rare occurrence for Vines. Going into the 1988-89 season, she had scored 398 free throws out of an attempted 557 during her career at DePaul, a success rate of 71.45 percent. What made these particular shots remarkable, and what caused the game to grind to a halt for celebration, was what they marked for Vines personally. Upon landing that second free throw shot, Vines became the highest scoring basketball player in DePaul history.

For those who had followed Vines’ career since her high school days, her success at DePaul was, perhaps, not so surprising. A native Chicagoan, she was known as one of the best high school basketball players in the area. Along with being named MVP of her school’s team twice, she was also a two-time member of the “Sun-Times” All-Chicagoland area team and was ranked as one of the area’s best shooters in a “Sun-Times” poll. Her media guide profile going into her freshman year at DePaul noted that she was “an extremely talented athlete” and had “the potential to be a top-notch Division I player.” 

Vines’ first season as a Blue Demon did not disappoint. By the end of the 1985-86 season, Vines had earned herself a place in the DePaul record books by both tying the record for most steals in a single game and earning herself a spot on DePaul’s all-time roster. Going into her sophomore season, coach Jim Izard said of Vines, “I feel Diana has the potential to be an All-American.” As it turned out, Izard would be right twice over.
Going into her junior season, the pressure on Vines was high. During her second season at DePaul, she had placed seven individual records at DePaul and placed 17th for scoring and fifth in rebounding nationally. “What Diana Vines means to this team is about 20 points and 15 rebounds a game,” Izard explained. In other words, the outcome of a game could easily rest entirely on Vines’ shoulders. Added to this pressure was the Blue Demons’ recent success. The 1986-87 basketball season saw the team tie the school record for most wins in a season, win the first conference championship in DePaul women’s basketball history, and become only the second DePaul women’s sports team to advance to a postseason tournament. Expectations for the 1987-88 season were high.
Jean Lenti Ponsetto presents Diana Vines with the game ball and flowers after breaking the scoring record on February 14, 1989.
Jean Lenti Ponsetto presents Diana Vines with the game ball and flowers after breaking the scoring record on Feb. 14, 1989. (Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)

In the end, there was no need for concern. In her third season at DePaul, Vines was named both MVP of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament and North Star Conference player of the year, was ranked 16th in scoring and 19th in rebounding nationally, became the second player in DePaul history to score over 1,700 points and make over 900 rebounds, and earned her first All-American title. This helped the Blue Demons to win their second straight North Star Conference championship and to earn the highest winning percentage in DePaul history. Diana Vines, however, was far from finished with making history at DePaul.

Entering her final season, Vines needed 483 points to beat Mark Aguirre’s scoring record and 208 rebounds to top Dave Corzine’s record. Both coaches and professors had long noted that Vines was a very focused, goal-orientated person. Breaking these records was no different. Following the legendary 1989 Valentine’s Day game, Vines told “The DePaulia,” “It’s not something I set out to do, but after I found out I could break the scoring record I made it one of my goals.” 

Like all of Vines’ other goals - such as graduating with a degree in education or playing basketball professionally - she accomplished this with great success. At the end of the 1988-89 season, Diana Vines was DePaul University’s all-time leader in scoring, rebounding, steals, field goals made, free throws made, and blocks. Along with a profusion of other honors, she was also named both an All-American and a North Star Conference MVP for a second consecutive season.

Now 30 years later, no one has broken Vines’ career scoring record of 2,504 points. She also still holds the DePaul University career records for field goals, attempted field goals, free throws, free throw attempts, and steals. She was inducted into DePaul’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. However, her legacy lies in more than just statistics. Vines’ ability, along with that of a very talented team overall, brought DePaul women’s basketball to the national stage. It also helped to build the DePaul women’s basketball team’s legacy as a powerhouse. Along with the six all-time career records that Vines holds, women hold an additional four of DePaul’s all-time career basketball records. Vines’ achievements played a major role in making DePaul’s women’s basketball the talented and well-respected program that it is today.

Despite all of this, however, Vines would perhaps argue that her success is due to more than basketball. In a 1989 interview with the “Chicago Tribune,” Vines was asked what advice she would give to young women aspiring to become basketball stars. Vines replied, “Go to high school. Go to college. Get a degree. Do what’s right for your mind. Take care of yourself.”