Te'a Cooper gives verbal to Tennessee
Te'a Cooper, a 5-foot-8 point guard at McEachern High (Powder Springs, Georgia) and the No. 12 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2015 class, gave a verbal commitment to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers on Thursday night.
"I loved my experience when I visited there," Cooper said in a phone interview. "I like the coaching staff and the traditions."
Cooper had previously committed to North Carolina when she was in eighth grade, but she reopened her recruitment in September. At that time, she named 10 finalists, including Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisville, Duke and Notre Dame.
Cooper, who averaged 19.6 points per game last season as a junior and led McEachern to a Georgia state title (her second), is the second player from the 2015 class to commit to Tennessee. She joins MeMe Jackson, a 5-11 wing from Blackman High (Murfreesboro, Tennessee), which won the national title this past season. The Lady Vols' 2014 recruiting class was ranked sixth in the nation and features Jaime Nared, Alexa Middleton and Kortney Dunbar.
Cooper's longtime friend and AAU teammate, Diamond DeShields, attended Cooper's announcement ceremony. DeShields -- the espnW freshman of the year this past season who led North Carolina to the Elite Eight -- was granted an unconditional release by the Tar Heels in April. She has yet to announce where she will be transferring.
DeShields, who grew up in the Atlanta area with Cooper, has spoken publicly about her admiration for the latest Lady Vol.
"I've learned a lot about working hard from watching her -- and she's younger than I am," DeShields said last summer. "I've seen her work out four times a day. She's helped me develop mental strength and helped me push through things."
DeShields also took to Twitter to talk about Cooper's decision:
*tear* so proud of her. So so SO proud! Bright future for you. Lookin good in orange baby girl wow I'm... http://t.co/zicU81F2CC- Diamond DeShields (@DDeShields23) June 6, 2014
On Tuesday, though, DeShields addressed speculation about being part of a package deal with Cooper.
Te'a Cooper is committing on Thursday NOT ME. Just to clear that whole thing up.- Diamond DeShields (@DDeShields23) June 3, 2014
As for Cooper's immediate future, she was one of 12 players selected last month for the USA Basketball U17 world championship team that will compete in the FIBA U17 World Championship from June 28-July 6 in the Czech Republic. Training camp opens in Colorado Springs, Colorado, next Thursday. The team leaves for France on June 18 for exhibition play that starts June 20.