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December 4, 2013

Dakota’s Dudgeon receives collegiate Division I scholarship

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Dakota’s Dudgeon receives collegiate Division I scholarship
Macomb Dakota senior Rio Dudgeon became Dakota’s first girls basketball player to receive a Division I scholarship.

Macomb Dakota senior Rio Dudgeon became the first girls basketball player in program history to receive a Division I scholarship, as the senior has signed on to play for Oakland University.

While Dakota coach Phil McCune may be excited about the opportunity Dudgeon has been given, it isn’t one that necessarily comes as a big surprise to him.

“When she walked in our gym as a ninth-grader, I turned to my JV coach at that time, who was Mike Misuraca, and I said, ‘Well, I think we might have our first Division I player here.’ It came to fruition.”

Being the first Dakota girls basketball player to earn a Division I scholarship has not been lost on Dudgeon.

“It’s such an honor,” she said. “I just found that out this year. I was really excited.”

Aside from being selected All-League and All-County during her time at Dakota, McCune said Dudgeon has also made the Detroit News All-East first team. Dudgeon, who plays the small forward position, has also been a part of two district championship teams with the Cougars.

The chance she has been given to suit up for a Division I program isn’t one Dudgeon seems to be taking for granted.

“I’m really, really excited,” she said. “Ever since I was little, I (had) a dream of going off to a Division I school, playing basketball and continuing my career. When I was traveling with my AAU team, I was out of state a lot, and I realized I don’t think I (enjoyed) being away from my family so much. I wanted to keep it local. I wanted people to be able to come watch. I think Oakland was, like, the perfect fit.”

Aside from hard work in the classroom, McCune credited Dakota’s educators and administrators for helping Dudgeon, as well as five players from last year’s team who signed with college programs, prepare for college. And while scoring a lot of points can look good on a stat sheet, Oakland is getting more than just a one-dimensional athlete when Dudgeon arrives on campus.

“She’s a really good kid who puts her team in front of her and puts her stats second,” McCune said. “Last year, she could have scored a lot more points, but she gave up a lot of that to make sure her teammates were successful. I think that was a big part of what makes Rio such a strong player, is that she’s not just a scorer. She can pass the ball, play good defense and block shots.”

Dudgeon is part of a Golden Grizzlies 2014 recruiting class that, according to a release from Oakland, “received honorable-mention honors as one of the top in the nation,” with Dudgeon being ranked in the top 70 at her position by ESPN.

Dudgeon expressed excitement about the chance to be part of that class.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I think he’s (Oakland University women’s basketball coach Jeff Tungate) doing a great job recruiting the girls. Really excited to play with all the girls they have.”

Dudgeon’s scholarship may present an opportunity to help others, as well.

“It’s good for the younger girls in our leagues and youth camps that Rio works with, for them to look up and see somebody play at that level,” McCune said. “It’s exciting for them — it’s exciting for teammates, exciting for me as a coach. I feel blessed I have the opportunity to coach somebody with her talent.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.