East Clarendon’s Cooper named Florence Morning News’ Player of the Year
by Submitted via Email | March 20, 2018 10:57 pm
Talaysia Cooper enjoyed everything from a cookout to a trip to the Red Lobster after helping the East Clarendon girls win the Class A girls’ state championship.
The 13-year-old eighth-grader rightfully deserved that after averaging 24.5 points, nine rebounds, five steals, 3.5 assists and two blocks per game.
With that in mind, she also rightfully deserves the title of Morning News Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.
Never mind Cooper’s age. She was the catalyst for a Wolverines squad that – after losing in overtime in the 2017 lower-state final – roared back this year and cruised to the program’s first state championship.
“It feels good because I tried my hardest to do what we needed to do and help my teammates out,” said Cooper, who scored a game-high 18 points in the state championship win against Timmonsville.
In one regular-season game against Hannah-Pamplico, Cooper’s talent stood out as she grabbed a rebound, nonchalantly dribbled out to the top of the key, turned around and drained a 3-pointer.
But there is more to Cooper than that.
“It’s her work ethic, her competitive spirit and passion for the game,” East Clarendon coach Mike Lowder said. “It’s her grit and determination, her love for her teammates.”
Cooper then expressed her love for her teammates.
“I’m going to miss some of my teammates because they were seniors this season,” Cooper said. “I hope it all goes well next year.”
As long as Cooper is playing for the Wolverines, chances lean more toward the positive. She learned early on she could not only play with older players, but compete with them.
“I’m glad that I can play good at this age because I probably would never have had the opportunity if I didn’t practice and have my teammates and my coaches and my family,” Cooper said.
Cooper already is drawing interest from some of women’s college basketball’s most successful coaches. Among them is South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, coach of the reigning national champion Gamecocks.
“It’s good that I have college coaches coming in to talk to me, but I also like to keep my grades up before I play basketball,” Cooper said.
Then, Cooper shared what it is about her play that impresses Staley.
“She likes that I’m not selfish with the ball,” Cooper said.
Looking ahead to her freshman year, Cooper said she simply wants to keep improving.
“I want to help my teammates score,” she said.
– Scott Chancey