By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald
The best thing that could have happened to Desiree Nelson this season was also part of the worst-case scenario for the Copperas Cove Lady Bulldawgs.
Cove graduated nine seniors from its 2008-09 playoff team, including most of the Lady Dawgs' guards. They lost another before the season, putting even most responsibility on Nelson's shoulders.
In addition to being one of Cove's top defenders and scorers, Nelson also took on most of the point-guard duties as well. It didn't always help the Lady Dawgs, but it definitely helped Nelson in making her more attractive as a future college player.
The University of North Texas noticed.
And Nelson made her college plans official Wednesday when she committed to the Mean Green. It's a decision she thought about for a few months.
"I'm just really excited and relieved," Nelson said. "Just really excited and happy.
A good part of that decision, Nelson said, came down to the her faith, the North Texas coaching staff and how the well the two mixed.
"Coach (Shanice) Stephens and her staff are real godly coaches and when I went, it just felt like home for me," Nelson said. "I just like the environment. Everything was good, but most of the my decision was based on the coaches though."
Nelson was arguably Cove's top returning player and without an established point guard, that responsibility was put on the usual shooting guard and perimeter player. Instead of running free and getting open, Nelson has the ball in her hands a lot more and had to create more while opponents' defensive intensity increased.
She took on the added role though, as addition to usually guarding an opponent's top perimeter player.
"It was great for her to experience that this year," Cove head coach Richard Herbst said. "It wasn't great for what she had to do all the time. That was a lot of pressure on her, but it will really pay off in her college career because now she's comfortable handling the ball."
Nelson said she enjoyed playing point guard for the first time in her career, but would rather player her more natural wing position. It's where she'll likely play while at North Texas.
"That really helped me and got me prepared. It was a change, but I got used to it. Point guard is fine but I'd still rather play the two or three, but this actually did help me."
The Mean Green finished their season Sunday with a 9-22 record. North Texas did upset Florida International in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference post-season tournament, but lost to Middle Tennessee in the quarterfinals.
Nelson was Cove's top scorer this season, averaging 15.7 points per game, which included three 20-point games in District 12-5A play. Against Belton to open district play, Nelson not only outscored the Lady Tigers with 15 points in the second quarter, but did so for the first half when she 23 in the first half and 27 for the game.
She added 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while making 77.3 percent of her free throws.
Her collection of awards this season includes co-most valuable player of the Bush's Chicken Holiday Classic, District 12-5A's defensive most valuable player and an all-region selection by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.