Carson's Dulkoski commits to Kennesaw
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE - Both Carson senior Kelly Dulkoski and her choice of colleges have gotten surprisingly big.
Dulkoski has stretched out to 5-foot-8, two inches taller than opponents had gotten used to, while Kennesaw State, a Division II terror just a few seasons back, now has the third-largest student population in Georgia with more than 23,000.
Dulkoski has given a verbal commitment to Kennesaw State's Owls and plans to sign in November.
"They've got a nice, new staff and I was at the top of their list," Dulkoski said.
Kennesaw, which won Division II championships in four different sports when it was in the Peach Belt Conference, now competes in the D-I Atlantic Sun Conference with schools such as Mercer, Stetson, Belmont and East Tennessee State. The school is located 20 miles north of Atlanta.
"It's a very nice school," said Cleon Cook, who coached Dulkoski's AAU team, the Carolina Express. "The dining hall at Kennesaw looks like Hanes Mall."
Dulkoski may spend a little time in the cafeteria, but it's certain most of her waking hours will continue to be spent in gyms.
She's a tremendous shooter, although he's played the point out of necessity at Carson.
Dulkoski has been a varsity player for coach Brooke Misenheimer at Carson since her freshman year, and she and teammate Allison Blackwell are set to become the first two 1,000-point scorers in school history during the 2012-13 season. Dulkoski has scored 841 points, while Blackwell has 790. The school record is recent graduate Chloe Monroe's 856.
Dulkoski has been instrumental in Carsons's rise from 11-16 to 18-7 to 23-4 the last three seasons. As a junior, she set school season records with a 16.3 ppg scoring average and 439 points and was named North Piedmont Conference Player of the Year. Carson shared the league title with North Iredell.
Also Carson's top tennis player, Dulkoski was named Rowan County Female Athlete of the Year for the 2011-12 school year.
Dulkoski didn't grow up dreaming of playing for Kennesaw State, but the Owls followed her closely during the busy AAU month of July. Her Carolina Express team played in Atlanta, Augusta, Ga., Nashville and Washington, D.C., against strong competition.
Her Express teammates included North Iredell's Bri and Mariah Johnson and Brooke Redmond, as well as Wake Forest commitment Keri Fulp.
"Everyone knew Kelly could shoot, but I think it was her defense that really got solidified this summer," Cook said. "All of our girls sacrificed a lot to travel. They were in the gym when other girls were on vacations or at the movies, so it's great to see them be rewarded with scholarships."
Nitra Perry, who had been an assistant at Toledo, was named Kennesaw State's new coach in April.
She watched Dulkoski closely. A visit was arranged, a scholarship was offered, and Dulkoski liked what she saw.
She became Perry's second commitment and will be part of what is shaping up to be a deep, strong recruiting class.
"It was a really long summer with a lot of travel, but it was worth it in the long run," Dulkoski said. "I'm excited to be going to Kennesaw State."
While Dulkoski has solid ballhandling and passing skills, it's her shooting ability that will be showcased at Kennesaw.
Kennesaw already has a stellar point guard. Taylor Mills, a 5-5 buzz-saw from Tennessee, was the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year.
"It should be a great system for Kelly, and I expect her to get some time as a freshman, Cook said. "That point guard they have creates a lot of space for shooters, and Kelly can shoot the basketball."
That she can. There was a game against East Rowan last January in which Dulkoski had 17 points and five 3-pointers - in the first quarter.
She finished with 32 points, one short of the school record.
Dulkoski took a brief break from sports Friday to serve on Carson's homecoming court, but her mind never strays far from basketball.
"She'll bring a tremendous work ethic to Kennesaw State," Cook said. "Any time that child leaves a gym, her shirt is nothing but sweat."
She did that through her work ethic, and it's a fantastic work ethic that she'll bring to Kennesaw State. When Kelly leaves a gym, her shirt is nothing but sweat."