Article about 2 newest Owls...
Article about 2 newest Owls...
Charlotte's Pena and DeSoto's Shine commit to play at FAU
BY DONNIE WILKIE CORRESPONDENT
Charlotte High's Dago Pena and DeSoto County High's Shay Shine now have one more thing in common, besides being travel-basketball teammates and Herald-Tribune first-team All-Area selections as juniors.
They will play college basketball together.
Florida Atlantic landed verbal commitments from the pair Monday when Pena and Shine chose the Owls of the Sun Belt Conference over a number of other suitors – Michigan, Virginia Commonwealth and Mississippi for the 6-foot-6 Pena; Western Kentucky, Alabama-Birmingham, Western Carolina and Charleston Southern for the 6-2 Shine.
Only FAU coach Rex Walters, though, envisioned both in his backcourt.
"Florida Atlantic made Dago and Shay a priority," said Matt Ramker, founder of the adidas-sponsored Florida Rams, the duo's travel team. "(FAU) worked harder than anyone. They convinced Dago to pass on much-larger schools and help build their school into a bigger national name."
The Dominican-born Pena averaged 16.1 points for the Class 5A-Region 3 runner-up Tarpons (24-7) last season and is No. 144 on Rivals.com's list of top seniors nationally.
Shine posted 18 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals per game for the 4A-District 10 champion Bulldogs (26-2), including a 32-point effort at Lemon Bay High.
Their relationship as AAU teammates is so strong that Pena refused to commit until Shine was also on the call – no easy task, considering Shay doesn't have a cell phone.
"I don't work, I'm broke," Shine quipped.
It's no wonder. He also quarterbacks DeSoto's undefeated football team, piling up 557 yards in total offense and six touchdowns (four rushing) in four games this season. He hopes to play football at FAU, too, beginning in the spring of his freshman year.
"With a friend going (to FAU) that he played with and traveled with, that's great," said DeSoto basketball coach Kip Rhoten. "I think this worked out the best for both of them."
Added Shine: "I didn't know what Dago was going to do. I'm surprised, but I'm glad he did it. It's a perfect fit for me. They push the ball and recruited me as a point guard.
"It's all kind of crazy. Not that many people get recruited from Arcadia."
He and Pena took official visits to the Boca Raton campus this weekend and attended the FAU-South Florida football game.
"I wanted to go (to college) with Shay," Pena said. "Everything was perfect. We are going there together and we're going to make the team win. I know how he plays and he knows how I play."
They will sign national letters-of-intent on Nov. 14.
Pena's parents – his mother played center for the Dominican Republic's national team for 12 years – sent Dago to now-defunct Florida Prep as a freshman. He transferred to Charlotte in February 2006 and scored 30 points in his first game against nationally ranked Jacksonville Arlington Country Day.
He survived a midseason eligibility inquiry before leading the Tarpons to 14 consecutive victories, the 5A-District 12 title, and two wins in the regionals.
"I think his teammates have noticed how hard he works, and it's very easy to sell the rest of your program when you have a great player who does that," said Charlotte coach Tom Massolio.
Walters' playing past – he led Kansas to the Final Four in 1993 and played 335 games in seven NBA seasons – was a key factor in Pena's recruitment.
"The other schools on (Pena's) list have great programs, but the connections Rex Walters has are very attractive for a kid like Dago who has visions of playing (in the NBA)," Massolio said.
The Owls were 16-15 last season and reached the NCAA Tournament in 2002 as Atlantic Sun champions.
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* Motor City Bowl/Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl Champions-2008