WNBA: Zia Cooke’s journey from South Carolina to Los Angeles Sparks

When Zia Cooke was drafted tenth by the Los Angeles Sparks, a dream was fulfilled for the South Carolina Gamecocks guard.

“It means essentially the most; I put in a variety of work,” Cooke stated whereas tearing up after being chosen. “Since I used to be six years previous, I put my life to this. My dad being right here for me since I used to be a child; that is one thing I dreamed of and I’m lastly right here.”

With the dream fulfilled and a brand new imaginative and prescient on her horizon, her new Sparks household shortly embraced her, with Nneka Ogwumike actually doing so on the draft, hugging her as she exited the room.

Zia Cooke is a reputation each ladies’s faculty basketball fan is effectively conscious of. Because the taking pictures guard of the Gamecocks, she completed each objective attainable collegiately. She made the SEC All-Freshman crew in 2020, was a three-time All-SEC member and helped South Carolina win all of it in 2022. She ended her profession eighth in factors at SC and began essentially the most video games ever as a freshman for the varsity, with 33 begins in 2019-20.

Earlier than faculty, Cooke’s highschool path noticed related success. She was a McDonald’s All-American in 2019 and noticed worldwide expertise with USA Basketball, successful gold medals as a part of the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup crew and the 2017 U16 Americas Cup crew.

Her last marketing campaign at South Carolina could have led to a disappointing loss, however Cooke was sensational, main the crew in factors (24) and minutes performed (40), proving to L.A. that she was prepared for the subsequent degree.

Cooke suits a variety of L.A.’s wants, as she offers the Sparks a dynamic taking pictures guard that’s explosive offensively and has improved as a 3-point shooter and as a point-of-attack defender. With Jordin Canada and Lexie Brown already within the backcourt, there might be loads of top-tier competitors for minutes and position positions on the roster, however Cooke is an thrilling prospect and one we mentioned as an excellent match for the Sparks earlier than the draft.

Seeing how Curt Miller makes use of Cooke in his new system in Los Angeles might be certainly one of many issues to keep watch over throughout coaching camp. Can she discover a position on this crew? Will she be an enormous a part of the Sparks returning to the playoffs after two years out? The longer term is unsure, however one factor is for positive: Los Angeles might be an thrilling crew to look at all season lengthy.