The list of star athletes with ties to Texas is probably going to get at least one name longer in coming years. That’s the lesson that anyone who followed FIBA’s U17 World Championship over the summer, when Flower Mound High School sophomore Lauren Cox—the six-foot-four forward who’s currently the top-ranked female basketball prospect in the country—led the U.S.A. to a championship over Spain.
Lots of people took notice of Cox—the youngest player on the team—in that game, where she nabbed twelve rebounds and set a new single-game record for Team USA with eight blocked shots. LeBron James congratulated Cox and teammate Asia Durr (the number two prospect in the country, from Atlanta) on Twitter after the game:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 6, 2014
Cox, #13 pictured above, remains uncommitted as to where she’ll play her college ball (though Durr, in September, declared for Louisville), but there’s a chance to get some more insight into the future star through a profile that ran this weekend in the Dallas Morning News, which takes readers into the start of Cox’s basketball season—coming just four days after the end of her volleyball season ended.
Colleges are recruiting her for basketball and volleyball and she hasn’t ruled out playing both. And what if she hadn’t given up track, where she was an all-around standout, winning a national AAU high jump gold medal at age 11 and district and area discus and shot put titles as a Flower Mound freshman?
“I was actually telling my dad the other day that I miss hurdles,” she said. “I could probably run [high school track] if I wanted to, but that’s a lot on my body, already playing two sports.”
Cox’s parents are both former college ballplayers themselves, we learn: her dad, Dennis (who is also six-foot-four), and her mom, six-foot-two Brenda, played at Missouri’s Central Methodist University and at SMU, respectively. They’ve got four girls, including Lauren, and all of them are names that those who follow sports and athletics in Texas might be hearing for years to come: her sisters, who range in age from ten to thirteen, are all active athletes, as well. Dennis Cox told the paper that “At 5, I think most parents of girls want them dancing or in gymnastics. We just toss them into sports.” It worked out well enough for Lauren, who set a high-jump record that still stands today for the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation when she was eight years old.
But the most interesting stuff that the Morning News unearthed involves the recruiting process for star female athletes, and how the Cox family is handling the intense interest in their daughter:
Drawing from recruiting experiences of Lauren’s older USA Basketball teammates, the Cox family tried to contain the frenzy by limiting the field and establishing parameters.
First, Dennis gave Lauren a packet of all 351 Division I basketball schools. Lauren circled the schools she was interested in and crossed out the others. The family contacted every school to inform them of Lauren’s list of 29 schools.
Coaches were asked to call or text only during a two-hour window on weeknights, a several-hour period on weekends and never on game days.
Between Sept. 9 and 29, NCAA rules allowed for coaches to have direct contact with recruits and parents on high school campuses. The Cox family did not want any of the visits to occur on volleyball game days, which left 11 school days.
Nelson arranged for 20 coaches to come to the Flower Mound campus to visit with Cox and her parents during those 11 days, making sure there were no more than three in one day.
Through that process, Cox has pared down the list of 29 schools to seventeen, the paper reports—which still gives her a whole lot of options, and a serious decision to be made. While the family is adamant about keeping the names on that list to themselves, and refuses to offer a timetable for the decision, they do admit that it includes “the usual suspects.”
If that means it includes the top ten programs in the country, there’s a decent chance that Cox might be staying in Texas for college: A&M, Baylor, and UT all rank at #5, #8, and #9, respectively. But wherever she ends up, Cox is part of a ongoing trend of Texas natives who are excelling in the sports world on a national level.
CBS noted that yesterday during its broadcast of the Dolphins/Lions NFL game, where Texas-raised quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford competed for each team.
But the list extends through just about every sport. Cox is looking to be part of a trend that includes Tannehill, Stafford, and the rest of the names on CBS’ infographic, but also, say, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (whom Cox played against at a Baylor camp when she was in eighth grade—”she was so tall and hard to shoot over,” she says), USMNT captain Clint Dempsey, NBA all-star Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge, Olympics gold medal gymnast Nastia Liukin, etc, etc.
There’s good reason to believe that, in the years to come, Lauren Cox’s name might be among them, so it’s worth getting to know her now.
(image via USA Basketball. Cox, #13, is on the left.)