No. 12 Cooper Heading East

No. 12 Cooper Heading East
No. 12 Cooper Heading EastKendall Cooper

Kendall Cooper, the 6-foot-3 post from Carson, Calif., has taken visits all across the country.  The No. 12 ranked player in the 2013 class has seen the best facilities and heard the best pitches, but a couple of small differences her to commit to the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday afternoon.

“The atmosphere at the school and the academics,” Cooper said.  “The campus feel of it, it just felt like a college town.”

With finalists Arizona State, Tennessee, Texas A&M and UCLA, all having enrollment more double that of Duke, it was clear that the atmosphere Cooper was looking for was a tighter knit setting.

But perhaps the biggest factor impacting Cooper’s decision was her desire to win a championship.

“(At Duke), I felt like I could get better immediately and not have to build it up over time,” Cooper said.

Cooper will join a loaded class, which with Cooper, elevates Duke to one of just two programs with three five-star prospects on tap in 2013.  The other being North Carolina.  She joins No. 6 Rebecca Greenwell of Owensboro, Ky., No. 10 Oderah Chidom of Oakland, Calif., and No. 32 Kianna Holland of Seneca, S.C.

And with only one senior on the roster this season, 6-5 post Allison Vernerey, the Duke roster will be equally loaded.  And the program already has a commitment from class of 2014 prospect Erin Mathias, a 6-3 forward from Pittsburgh, Pa., who has a four-star rating.  But even with all this talent, the confidence Cooper has in her ability remains.

“They told me I would play the four and the five because of how versatile I am,” Cooper said.  “I can go in and make a difference right away.”

The coaching staff is often a major factor for top recruits and Cooper is no different.  In Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie, she will get a little more of what she’s used to.

“Coach P is more like, get in your face, get down and make sure she gets what she needs,” Cooper said.

Cooper plays high school basketball for James Anderson at St. Anthony’s High School in Los Angeles, and plays her summer club ball with George Quintero of the Cal Storm Team Taurasi.  Both of these men bring intensity to their game coaching and practices, so Cooper feels right at home with Coach P’s style.

As she packs her bags for Durham next summer, she will have at least one familiar face in tow, Chidom, who was a teammate of Cooper’s on Team Taurasi the past few years.

“Me and Oderah are really close,” Cooper said.  “Actually she’s we’re almost sisters.  It will help at school because we’ll build a stronger bond.”

Cooper ultimately got exactly what she wanted in Duke and in committing gives the Blue Devils scary depth across its roster for the foreseeable future.

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