Green Devils' Cox lightens his step

Published November 20, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg star sophomore Shamon Cox stepped up this summer by slimming down.

The stocky swingman dropped 20 pounds, forming a more manageable 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame.

But Cox, an all-county honorable mention pick as a freshman, will likely have to shoulder a heavier load this season.

The Green Devils, district runnerup last year, lost Donald Bowens (now playing football at N.C. State). Coach Chris Blackwell said Bowens' graduation leaves a leadership vacuum as well as a big hole in the post.

Enter Cox, a streaky shooter that can slash into the lane at any time.

Said Blackwell: "He's one of the best sophomores in the state."

STINGY CREW: Countryside coach Bob Marinak said his team has already pledged to break the school's single-season mark for fewest points allowed, like the Cougars did last year.

"The guys are pretty pumped up," Marinak said. "I wouldn't put it past them."

Predicted finish

1. Sickles: The defending champion returns a strong nucleus of players.

2. St. Petersburg: Young, athletic group, led by star sophomore Shamon Cox, will be in the mix.

3. Countryside: Losing Peter Alexandrou (Florida College) will hurt, but stingy Cougars 'D' keeps them in playoff contention.

4. Gaither: Athletic group could surprise some teams.

5. Mitchell: Have to replace too more than a handful players.

6. Alonso: Won't have enough balance to reach upper echelon of district.

Games to watch

Tuesday: St. Petersburg at Clearwater: The Green Devils, facing one of the county's best, get a good early-season indicator.

Dec. 7, Countryside vs. St. Petersburg: Will Cougars' stingy 'D' shut down St. Petersburg scoring machine Shamon Cox?

Players to watch

Shamon Cox, St. Petersburg: Streaky-scoring sophomore can go inside and out.

DaShawn Matias, Countryside: The senior forward averaged 10 points and seven rebounds last year.

Josh Crawford, Countryside: The 5-10 senior point guard sets the table for the Cougars.