In his native Antigua and Barbuda, an island nation in Caribbean, Cohen DeSouza grew up playing basketball.

"Basketball is not the most popular sport there," the Tyler Junior College sophomore said. "Football - soccer - is the most popular sport. My uncle taught me basketball."

DeSouza, a 6-8 forward, stuck with his sport that first earned him a scholarship on the Apache basketball team.

Now, he has made history for his West Indies country, becoming the first athlete to sign an NCAA Division I scholarship, TJC basketball coach Mike Marquis said.

DeSouza inked a scholarship on Wednesday with Saint Francis University during a ceremony before his teammates and coaches in the foyer of Wagstaff Gymnasium.

"I am extremely bless and I thank God for this opportunity He has given me," said the soft-spoken DeSouza who was part of the Apache squad that participated in the national tournament last year. He also thanked his family and the people of his nation.

Saint Francis is located in Loretto, Pennsylvania. The Red Flash compete in the Northeast Conference and are coming off a 16-16 season in which they received a bid to the College Insider Tournament.

DeSouza is planning to major in business.

While at a basketball camp in Antigua, the Basketball Association of Antigua flew Marquis to Barbuda "on a crop duster and landed on a airport strip that is about as big as my driveway" to see DeSouza.

"I didn't think there would be any possible way we would find someone there. After about 30 seconds of watching him play it was obviously Cohen was a terrific player."

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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