The Tigerette basketball program over the past three years plus is not just measured in the amount of wins or state championships, but in the recognition of the talented players by college coaches, who continue to pursue the girls from Lewisburg to play basketball at the next level.
Kenesha "NeNe" McLean and Andraya Tears became the latest two members of the MCHS squad to sign college scholarships when they both signed on the dotted line Wednesday to continue their basketball careers at Cleveland State Community College.
Tigerette head coach Boyd West was happy, but a little melancholy at the Tears/McLean signing when he said, "I told one of the parents that it feels like I just kicked my kids out of the house. These five seniors have put Marshall County basketball back on the map. They will always have a special place in my heart."
In basketball, there is a double bonus, late in games when teams are in foul trouble and you get extra foul shots. Cleveland State head coach Dan Lumpkin raked in a double bonus for an extra shot in the arm of his Lady Cougar squad of 2010 when he wasted no time signing the Tigerette duo.
Lumpkin said at the signing, "This is our first official signing date and we wanted to get this done immediately. The number one reason we signed them is because they have been coached and have come from a great program. They have been in tough games and tough situations. We are very happy to get them both."
McLean and Tears are more than just teammates, they are best friends and were both overjoyed about going off to college together.
"This is a wonderful feeling. I never thought I would sign to play basketball and to go with my best friend, I just couldn't ask for anything more. It's just an awesome feeling," said Tears.
Tears, who was also a four-year letterman on the MCHS soccer team plans on majoring in either sports medicine or physical therapy.
"This is exciting," said McLean. "I never thought something like this would happen. It is going to be great to go with someone I trust, and together, we will succeed."
McLean commented that she would like to enter into the health care field, but is not yet sure what she wants to focus in on.
Lumpkin talked his plans for both players, saying, "We play a lot of players and we play a fast paced game with full court pressure. I believe Kenesha will step right in and be an impact player and I believe Andraya has a chance to do that also."
Lumpkin smiled when asked about McLean's athleticism on the court and said, "She can post and she can shoot, and she can take it on the drive and penetrate. My philosophy is to teach each player on the team when it is their opportunity to score. We want to let her showcase her talents and abilities in our system."
"In Andraya we saw a player with sound post defense and someone who can rebound. She is a good player in the open court and in full court pressure and that is what we were looking for. Andraya runs the floor very well and is a good athlete. I think she will blossom in our program."
The confident and flashy McLean talked about moving up to the collegiate level and how she thinks she will do, saying, "I think I will bring to the table in college what I have brought to the table in high school and just a little bit more. This is a big step, a big jump, but hopefully I will prove my point and become a role player, if not a starter."
West knows McLean's upside, saying, "I think the college level will benefit NeNe more then a lot of other players coming out of high school. She plays more like a boy. With the shot clock, she can push the ball and showcase her one-on-one skills. The clock we benefit her and she will benefit Cleveland State."
Tears was never a full-time starter on the squad, but West sees a lot of potential in the gifted athlete. "Andraya has improved tremendously this year," said West. "Andraya has great footwork, is quick on her feet, and runs the floor well. She is a role player that can do the dirty work of rebounding and playing defense."
In the last two years, seven players will have signed college scholarships out of the Tigerette basketball program, beginning with McKenna Moffett and Jessica McQueen who went to Martin Methodist last year, followed by Lauren March's signing with MTSU this season.
Two more starters from this year's Tigerette basketball squad will also move on to the next level. Jakerra Simmons has decided not to play basketball in college and will reportedly attend Vanderbilt University on an academic scholarship while Addricka O'Neal has accepted an offer to play softball at Volunteer State Community College and will sign this week.