By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
For years, Killeen has been known for its ability to churn out top-tier Division I-caliber boys basketball players.
Last year alone, the city sent a record four in one year to the highest level of college hoops.
But when Alayshia Hunter and Eboniey Jeter officially put pen to paper over the next week, they could be ushering in a new age for the city's female basketball prospects.
"Maybe now we have a generation (of girls) that says, 'Hey, if the boys can do it, so can we,'" Ellison head girls coach Sherry McKinnon said.
Jeter, Harker Heights' 5-foot-11 senior post, is slated to sign with North Texas during a ceremony Wednesday in the Heights' gym. The 6-foot-1 Hunter will follow suit Monday when she endorses a scholarship offer from Louisiana-Monroe.
"It's a great feeling. It's weird because a of lot girls here don't go D-1, they're mostly juco, so to be a D-1 athlete is great, I'm really excited," Hunter said.
They will be the city's first Division I girls basketball signees since Killeen forward Jasmine Baugus signed with Texas State before the 2009-10 season.
The year before Baugus, the Lady Knights' Bobbi Taylor inked to South Alabama on the same day (Nov. 12) that Killeen's Imani Dunn did with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Danika Dale, the lone Division I basketball player from Shoemaker, regardless of sex, signed with Liberty University in 2007, the year after Harker Heights' Nyesha Adams went to A&M-Corpus Christi.
"It's bringing Killeen out," Hunter said. "It's like, there's talent somewhere not in Dallas, Austin or Houston, there's little small towns that have talent."
Last year, the city saw four Division I boys signees, including both Killeen's Tashawn Thomas (Houston) and Ellison's Devonte Brown (Indiana State) in the early November signing period. Joining them later were Jaleel Williams of Ellison (San Jose State) and Royce O'Neale of Harker Heights (Denver).
"It's just nice seeing more going Division I - girls and boys - because they're really putting us on the map to show we do produce great basketball players here in Killeen," said Lady Knight head coach Shirretha Nelson.
Before them, Killeen High sent Cory Jefferson to Baylor (2008) and Tre Nichols to Boise State via Texas State (2007) while Heights post DJ Stephens signed with the University of Memphis in the summer of 2010.
"It's just the (girls) are playing more, and putting that time into this, and they're getting a lot of recognition and publicity, more than they've had since I've been here," McKinnon said. "And I'm excited that when you think of Ellison now, it's not just about our boys basketball program, but also about the girls program, too."