Te'a Cooper commits to Tennessee

Te'a Cooper

Elite point guard recruit T'ea Cooper has committed to the Lady Vols. Go inside with InsideTennessee for an interview with the Class of 2015 recruit.

Te'a Cooper made it official Thursday evening when she selected an orange Tennessee T-shirt from five clothing options placed on a table at a gathering in Kennesaw, Ga., of friends and family.

The 5-8 point guard from Powder Springs who plays for McEachern High School in Georgia praised the programs of all five finalists – the others were South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Pitt – before saying she had decided to become a Lady Vol.

The event was filmed by MTV as part of its "True Life" reality series about college recruiting. Cooper, who was late to the taping, said her dad delayed matters getting ready and the site prepared.

"He told me to get ready and then he took two hours to get ready!" Cooper said.

Cooper arrived wearing pink-and-black high heels that she saw in a store display Wednesday and decided those were the ones for her ceremony.

"I had bought two pairs of shoes and then I walked past the store and I saw the pink ones, and I took the other ones back and I just bought them," Cooper said.

She didn't waste any time with her announcement, wrapping up her remarks in a couple of minutes before picking the orange T-shirt.

That was followed by a call to Holly Warlick and her staff to tell them she had officially committed.

"I told them, ‘I'm a Vol!' " Cooper said. "She was screaming. All of them were screaming."

Cooper was accompanied at the announcement by her parents, Omar and Kindall Cooper, and confetti covered them when she selected Tennessee's shirt.

"Everybody was excited. It was everything I was looking for," said Cooper, citing the facilities, campus, team and staff.

MTV will film Cooper on one more occasion for voiceover and then air the episode in July or August.

Cooper is the second commit for the Lady Vols from the Class of 2015. The first was Jamasha "MeMe" Jackson, a 6-0 wing/guard from Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Jackson is a physical playmaker and defensive stalwart. Cooper is a true point guard who wants the ball in her hand and can get to the rim to score, feed the post and dish to open shooters.

Cooper, who recently earned one of 12 spots on the USA's U17 squad that will compete in the FIBA World Championships this summer, was voted 2014 Georgia Miss Basketball by the Georgia Sports Writers Association.

Cooper is working a basketball camp in Georgia this weekend and then will head to Colorado Springs, Colo., for training camp with the USA team. The U17 championships will take place June 28 to July 6 in the Czech Republic.

Tennessee and a host of other top schools began recruiting Cooper last summer. She had committed to North Carolina as an eighth-grader but then reopened her commitment after the Tar Heels underwent roster and coaching changes.

North Carolina remained a contender, but Cooper opted for Tennessee after considering all five finalists.

Cooper had attended a Lady Vols game this past season, and she made an unofficial visit to campus last October. The interest in the Lady Vols was underscored by the Tennessee jersey that she wore on the trip. She took another unofficial visit to Tennessee in the spring.

"I like Tennessee and how they play and the coaching staff," Cooper said in May. "The fan support is crazy. The whole area is Big Orange women's basketball."

Jackson was thrilled with Cooper's decision and tweeted: "Shout out to my upcoming point guard! Can't wait to hoop with ya at TENN"

"I was excited," Jackson said in a phone interview with InsideTennessee. I just can't wait to play with her. She is a phenomenal player. The way she plays and the way she loves the game, you can tell. She plays very hard. She gets everybody involved."

Jackson has played against Cooper on the summer circuit and also watched her at the USA trials in May.

"She has a passion to win, and on and off the court, she is a good person," Jackson said. "She plays very smart. She has a high IQ. She plays like a point guard is supposed to play."

Jackson welcomes the company in the Class of 2015. She committed to Tennessee last February.

"I am glad to have her, and hopefully we get more," Jackson said.

Tennessee fans will now await the decision of Diamond DeShields, a close friend of Cooper's who attended the commitment announcement. DeShields was the national freshman of the year at North Carolina and announced her decision last April to transfer. DeShields and Cooper have said that DeShield's decision will be made independently of what Cooper decided to do.

Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia are DeShields' three finalists, and her decision is likely to come soon.

Cooper said she won't try to sway DeShields.

"I don't really talk to Diamond about college," Cooper said. "We talk about everything else."

Cooper plans to be a frequent visitor to Tennessee's campus and when she was asked who she already knew on the team, Cooper rattled off the roster.

"I am going to be up there all the time," she said.

She will not, however, sign early in November, but Cooper has a good reason. Her birthday is April 16, which is also the start of the regular signing period, so she will ink her name on a letter of intent next spring.

"I want to do April because that is my birthday," said Cooper, who had no doubt her decision was permanent. "Tennessee is the place to be."

Discuss Te'a Cooper's commitment with staff and subscribers by clicking here.


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