La Marque vs. Wharton

La Marque assistant coach Kevin Wilcox, right, hugs Jauron Freeman while Jermaine Morris, left, looks on after the Cougars won the Region IV-4A championship March 5, 2016, at the Steinke Center in Kingsville.

George Tuley/For The Daily News

LA MARQUE

Persistence is a friend to Kevin Wilcox. Despite setbacks and barriers that might have led a lesser person to throw up their hands in disgust, Wilcox embraced each challenge set in front of him while keeping his goals in sight.

His hard work and patience paid off on Monday afternoon when he was named the new boys basketball head coach at La Marque, where he graduated from in 1995.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Wilcox, who replaces David Montano. “The chance to come home and be a coach is pretty exciting, and I want to be able to share that excitement not only to the program, but to the community as well. My biggest goal is to make sure each of our players realize they are accountable for what they do on and off the court.”

A four-sport athlete at La Marque, Wilcox attended Texas Southern University on a football scholarship before transferring to Panhandle State in Oklahoma. After ending his professional football aspirations, Wilcox came back to La Marque, where the seeds of his path to coaching were first sown.

“I kind of lost my way for a bit, but I got involved in youth sports,” he said. “I coached youth football, AAU basketball and was an umpire in baseball games. “The more I got involved, the more I began to realize I wanted to become a coach, so I decided to go back to school.”

Wilcox attended Galveston College before enrolling at University of Houston-Downtown, where he received his bachelor’s degree while also working as a correctional officer. He graduated UHD six years ago and began coaching shortly afterward, recently serving stints as an assistant on La Marque’s football and basketball teams.

The path Wilcox took is one that he wants to instill in his players and students.

“I’m living proof that you can make it,” he said. “You just have to keep on striving and keep your eyes on your dreams.”

Wilcox takes over a La Marque boys hoops program that has reached the state’s final four three times since 2011 and advanced to the Region III-3A semifinals last season. The Cougars lost the foundation of their recent success when LaDerrious Arvie, Jauron Freeman, Raymond Stubblefield, Desmond Murray and Keyshaun Ouzenne — each members of the all 24-3A team — graduated last month. While district newcomer of the year Jordan Ivy-Curry returns, La Marque will look to build around a youthful cast of junior varsity players who lost just twice last season.

“I’ll be looking to find cohesion with what we have,” Wilcox said. “We’re going to rely on a combination of players rather than have a couple of go-to players. I think we’ll move well as a group.”

Wilcox credits La Marque football coach/athletic coordinator Mike Jackson as a strong influence on his path.

“He’s been like a mentor to me,” said Wilcox. “He has done a great job of developing me. I’m not here without his guidance.”

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