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Clarksville High School’s Cooper dreams of winning state championship, thankful for opportunites she’s had
Clarksville High School senior will play for the Florida Gators next year. She takes a moment to speak with James D. Horne of the Clarksville Sports Network.
Clarksville, TN - Let’s just say Clarksville High School’s Chandler Cooper was always destined to play basketball.
She just got the added blessing of having a father, Al, who happened to play college basketball at Lipscomb and is a high school boys basketball coach at rival Northeast High School.“My whole family jokes that I came out the womb with a basketball. That’s what everyone says,” the 5-foot-11 shooting guard said. “But having a dad who played and coached was a big advantage that not everyone has. I always had an available gym at Northeast. I grew up at Northeast. I always had a gym to play in and my dad was always willing to work with me. And it wasn’t just he was willing to work with me, he knows what he’s talking about and that was always such an advantage for me. I always had a teacher there for me.”
But had Cooper made a different decision in fifth grade she might be playing and starring on the Clarksville High girls soccer team instead of the Lady Wildcats basketball team: “I’ve always loved basketball more than soccer, but it got to a point where I was playing both on travel teams. My dad told me that he didn’t want me to be average in both, that he wanted me to be great at one. So he asked me which one I wanted to play and I chose basketball.”
Cooper is headed to the SEC to play for Florida next season. But on top of that Cooper is just one of five CHS’ senior starters who are going to play at the Division I level next year.
Two are also going to play in the SEC, senior center Bashaara Graves is going to play at rival Tennessee and senior guard Jessy Ward is head to play for SEC West foe Mississippi State.
The other two are going to face each other in the Ohio Valley Conference next year with senior guard Tiasha Gray going to play for Austin Peay and senior forward Tia Nicholson headed to Tennessee Tech.
“I think that’s just the craziest thing,” Cooper said. “That just doesn’t happen. I’ve never heard of it and especially that Bashaara, Jessy and I are all going to play in the SEC. ”
Cooper admitted it may take some getting used to playing against Graves and not being on the same team with her: “Bashaara and I always talk about how weird it’s going to be to step on the court and she’s in orange and I’m in blue. It’s just surreal to me, because we’ve been playing with each other on the same team since we eight-years old.”
Cooper talked about how hectic her recruitment was with all the letters and phone calls she received. She said at one point she just stopped opening her mail, but was inundated with phone calls and voice mails.
She used a pros and cons list to help her make her final decision and had a ‘zen-like moment’ when she finally decided to go 11 hours away to Gainesville, Florida.
“The list was very helpful,” Cooper said. “I looked at what I really wanted in a school and the choice was simple, Florida was the choice for me. Once I made that choice, the weight of the world was off my shoulders.
“It really was a zen-like moment, because now we can focus on winning a state championship. We don’t have to worry about who’s watching us or who to impress. All we have to do is focus on winning a state championship. But we really don’t have to worry about anything, because we know college is paid for.”
The perfect end to the season for Cooper, who’s averaging 10.8 points and 3.2 rebounds a game and making 38 percent from the 3-point line, would be seeing Clarksville High win the Class 3A state championship.
And it’s on her mind often.
“I was sitting in fourth period the other day daydreaming about winning the championship,” Cooper said. “You just envision it and I feel all the emotion that goes with it. I fell like I’m at MTSU, on the court with the team, all my family and friends and we’re all jumping over each other. We all dream about it and we all talk about it.”
Three things people don’t know about Chandler Cooper:
Three things Chandler Cooper likes:
Three things Chandler Cooper doesn’t like:
James D. Horne began his writing career at the Carrollton Missouri Democrat in 1995, and was the assistant sports editor/writer for the Hammond Louisiana Daily Star for two years. In 1998, Horne became the Missouri Basketball beat writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune. He joined The Leaf-Chronicle in Oct. 2003 as the lead prep writer and became the Austin Peay beat writer in March of 2005. During his career he won a state association sports writing award at the Daily Star and two while at the Leaf-Chronicle.
Originally from Tampa, Florida, Horne earned his B.A in communications from Central Methodist University in Fayette Missouri.
TopicsAl Cooper, APSU, Austin Peay State University, Bashaara Graves, Chandler Cooper, Clarksville High School, Clarksville Sports Network, Clarksville TN, Florida, Gainesville FL, Gators, Jessy Ward, Lady Govs, Lady Vols, Lady Wildcats, Lipscomb, Mississippi State, Mississippi State University, Northeast High School, Ohio, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC, Soccer, State Championship, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, Tia Nicholson, Tiasha Gray, University of Florida., University of Tennessee
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