By Angel Verdejo
The Cove Herald
Antonio Clemons knows the stigma hovering over the Copperas Cove boys basketball program.
The Bulldawgs, unlike their female counterparts, don't send players on to the next level. Just last year, four former Lady Dawgs moved on to college basketball. Two more have signed or committed from this season's squad.
Cove turned a corner last year when Raheem Odomes committed to East Texas Baptist, becoming the first Dawg in nine years to play in college.
The Dawgs made it two in two years Tuesday, while the Lady Dawgs bumped their total up to three. Antonio Clemons and Shina McCoun were honored at a morning ceremony, as both signed with Ranger College.
"It feels great," said Clemons, who's father, Tony, also played at Ranger College following a standout career at Cove. "I just thank God for giving me the ability and opportunity to even go to college and further my career in basketball and education."
Clemons was a second-team all-District 12-5A selection and for most of the season determined the Dawgs' play.
When at his best, the 6-foot-3 Clemons controlled opponents with double-digit scoring ability to go with his ability to rebound despite facing bigger opposition in the paint. He posted a double-double in Cove's lone 12-5A win, and earned all-tournament honors at the Gatesville Holiday Tournament.
"With it going around that not many basketball players get any scholarships or go to college to play basketball, it makes you want to prove them wrong," said Clemons, who will likely play out on the perimeter in college. "Show that we have talent at Cove and we can go to college to play basketball - not just football players going on."
McCoun, like Clemons, played under the basket despite being a shorter post player. At 5-10 in a district loaded with player 6-0 or taller, McCoun averaged 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. She'll make a switch as well, moving out to be a small forward or guard.
"I've been playing post since the seventh grade," said McCoun, who added she wanted to attend a smaller school so she could stayed focused. "I want to try something new."
She missed time during the Bush's Chicken Holiday Classic and Cove's first district game in January due to a hip injury, but returned to score 10 or more points in all but two games to end the regular season.
"Playing as a center, I was used to getting bumped and I was always a little center," McCoun said. "Now I'll finally be able to look people face to face."