For four players, the next step of a journey that began in grade school became official Wednesday.
A trio of Harker Heights boys, twins Cameron and Josh DeLaney and Roderick Taylor, and one girl, Angela DeLaney, signed letters of intent to play Division I college basketball next fall in a well-attended ceremony at Heights Gymnasium.
Taylor, the first to commit, will attend the University of Louisiana-Monroe while Cameron will attend the University of Denver.
Angela and Josh will attend Sam Houston State to the delight of Angela, who was the first of her siblings to commit and was hoping to be joined by one of her brothers.
“I’m excited that he’s going with me,” she said of Josh, the last of the four to commit. “I know that I’ll be more comfortable as a freshman going into college knowing that he’s there with me, so I’m excited.”
On a historic day for Heights basketball, the players’ coaches and parents were just as excited to see the four establish a new standard for Knight basketball.
“It just helps for Central Texas to get back on the map, that’s the big deal,” Heights boys coach Celneque Bobbitt said. “A lot of our kids have gotten missed.”
The DeLaneys famously did everything possible to make Wednesday a reality, with 5 a.m. workouts that date back to grade school.
Yet even after all the hard work, signing day was still an unbelievable experience for the siblings.
“To see this happen is surreal,” Cameron said. “It’s like a dream come true.”
Having Taylor sign with the DeLaneys was just as special for both families.
Taylor was born in Panama and moved to Killeen from Colorado at age 13, the fourth stop of his young life. He instantly formed a bond with the DeLaneys on and off the court.
“We instantly clicked,” Josh said. “He was tall, and we needed a tall player, so we just started playing basketball.”
Taylor began traveling with Cameron and Josh on the AAU circuit, which his mother, Gloria Taylor, believes was a big help in him earning a scholarship.
“I’m glad that he did have the DeLaney twins with him to help him grow here because it’s kind of hard with a military family moving from town to town,” Gloria Taylor said. “So I’m glad that he got a chance to experience basketball with them.”
On Wednesday, flanked by both twins, Taylor finalized one of his last experiences with the two in signing to play at the next level.
“I’m just blessed that me and my brothers, Cameron and Josh, we don’t have to pay for college, and I’m just happy,” said Taylor, the youngest of three siblings and the first to earn a scholarship.
Now, the four can focus on their senior seasons, in which each has lofty goals.
“To start off the season we’re ranked 18th in the state, so we have a lot of expectations,” Josh said. “But coach Bobbitt has even higher expectations for us — he wants us to set records.”
Girls coach Shirretha Nelson has equally high expectations for Angela and her squad this season.
But Wednesday, Nelson was simply happy to see her standout senior sign for the next step of her life.
It was a feeling shared by most in attendance Wednesday.
“Words can’t explain how proud I am, and I’m happy for her,” Nelson said. “I know that she’s excited about this opportunity, and she’s going to school and they’re very excited to have her come out and play. And they expect her to do great things, and I anticipate that she will.”
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562