USC Women's Basketball

USC transfer Te’a Cooper joining blue blood that eliminated Gamecocks from NCAAs

Former South Carolina women’s basketball guard Te’a Cooper, who entered the transfer portal in April, will transfer to the Baylor Lady Bears and be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer, BU coach Kim Mulkey announced Thursday.

Cooper led the Gamecocks in scoring this past season with 11.9 points per game. She also averaged 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in 30 appearances and 28 starts. She was named second-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches.

In NCAA tournament play, Cooper averaged 15 points per game, but she and USC fell to Baylor in the Sweet 16, ending Carolina’s bid for three consecutive Elite Eights.

This past year was Cooper’s only one on the floor for the Garnet and Black — she initially transferred from Tennessee, where she played her freshman year and missed her sophomore season due to injury. USC coach Dawn Staley pushed to get the Powder Springs, Georgia, native a waiver from the NCAA to make her immediately eligible to play her junior season in 2017-2018, but the waiver was denied.

Cooper was the last of three transfers from the program to find a new team this offseason — guard Bianca Jackson previously joined Florida State, and forward LaDazhia Williams went to Missouri. Senior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan entered the transfer portal but later withdrew her name and stayed with USC.

This marks the second year in a row Baylor has added an All-SEC guard to instantly boost its rotation — LSU’s Chloe Jackson joined the Lady Bears last offseason and played a key role in the team’s run to a national championship. That pushed her to a second-round WNBA draft pick. Cooper, meanwhile, had the option to go pro after this past season but declined to do so — she was not widely expected to be drafted if she had.

South Carolina, meanwhile, added one transfer this offseason, guard Destiny Littleton from Texas. Staley has said the plan is to apply for a waiver to make Littleton immediately eligible.

The Gamecocks also add the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class, which includes four top-15 prospects, and return All-SEC senior guard Tyasha Harris for the 2019-2020 season.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.