Dawn Staley said Monday morning that she was satisfied with her 2017-18 squad, one that had everybody already on campus and was about to practice. With two available scholarships, though, she could see adding another player if it was the right situation.
“We’re in a position where you don’t want to turn down a good player,” Staley said. “So if something comes up where we feel like it fits into our system and it fits into our culture, certainly we would entertain it.”
Something came up, and the defending national champions are definitely entertaining it.
Tennessee transfer Te’a Cooper, the top-rated point guard in the Class of 2015, announced her commitment to South Carolina Monday after visiting over the weekend. Cooper posted a video of herself modeling her new USC practice trunks and re-Tweeted congratulations throughout Monday afternoon and Staley confirmed the news with a Tweet on Tuesday morning.
Cooper, an SEC all-freshman selection in 2015-16, sat out last season after tearing her left ACL in summer workouts. She will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as well after transferring from the Lady Vols, but will have two years of eligibility beginning in 2018-19.
The 5-foot-8 Cooper is the second former SEC star to transfer to USC over the past two years. The Gamecocks landed Kentucky forward Alexis Jennings last year and she begins her remaining two years of eligibility this season.
Cooper was a McDonald’s All-American at McEachern (Ga.) High and originally committed to North Carolina. A close friend of Tennessee rising senior Diamond DeShields, Cooper committed to Tennessee on June 6, 2014; a week later, DeShields, who also considered USC after transferring from UNC, chose the Lady Vols.
Cooper averaged 8.6 points for Tennessee as a freshman, scoring at least 20 points three times and starting 15 of 36 games. She had 74 assists to 97 turnovers but collected 43 steals.
She announced her transfer from Tennessee on May 16. The Lady Vols signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country heading into a crucial year for coach Holly Warlick’s future, headlined by top overall guard Evina Westbrook and No. 3 point guard Anastasia Hayes. The two freshmen are extremely talented but Cooper had experience at the point; with guard Alexa Middleton also leaving Tennessee, UT will either start a freshman or go with DeShields or Meme Jackson, who each dabbled at the position last year.
The Gamecocks will lose senior Bianca Cuevas-Moore after this season but will return starting point guard Ty Harris. USC has also received a commitment from Destanni Henderson, the top-rated point guard in the next class.
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2017-18 SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ROSTER
Bianca Cuevas-Moore, Sr.
Lindsey Spann, Sr.
A’ja Wilson, Sr.
Doniyah Cliney, RJr.
Alexis Jennings, Jr.
Te’a Cooper, RSo.*
Araion Bradshaw, So.
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, So.
Tyasha Harris, So.
Victoria Patrick, So.
Lele Grissett, Fr.
Haley Troup, Fr.
LaDazhia Williams, Fr.
Bianca Jackson, Fr.
*Ineligible this year