When the time comes to choose a college, Zia Cooke will have her pick of programs from all across the United States.
For now, the list of contenders also includes the biggest program in her home state.
Cooke, the Rogers High School star ranked as the top point guard in her class, said she still is considering Ohio State as one of her potential destinations.
The Buckeyes have chased after Cooke for years, and Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff visited Toledo on Wednesday to watch Cooke’s Rams play in a City League tournament semifinal.
McGuff, whom the Buckeyes hired before the 2013 season, has been recruiting Cooke since the beginning.
“He’s been there since seventh grade,” Cooke said. “He’s been around for a long time.”
Rogers' Zia Cooke has led the Rams to a City League championship in all three of her high school years.
Cooke is ranked as the No. 7 overall player in her class by ESPN, and her five-star ranking has drawn more than 50 offers and interest from almost every major player in women’s college basketball.
“She could be one of the best guards ever to come out of Toledo if she keeps working,” Rogers coach Lamar Smith has said of Cooke. “The sky's the limit.”
Ohio State currently has one of the top players in college basketball in senior guard Kelsey Mitchell, who has won the Big Ten player of the year award twice and is likely to win it again this season.
Mitchell is a surefire WNBA draft pick, and the Buckeyes give her license to be creative, which Cooke said was appealing to her as a fellow guard.
“I do like that,” Cooke said. “Like I said, I don’t know where I want to go, but I definitely like how they let her free up. It’s basically her team.
“But I want to win, so that’s my goal.”
Ohio State still could sign Cooke, but she said she ultimately will choose a school that gives her a chance to win on a national level.
More than anything else, Cooke said she is looking for a bond with her future teammates and coach, and will pick a school based on the connections she makes along the way.
“I’m the type of player who wants to win,” Cooke said. “I’m going to go to an environment where it’s a team environment, where we’re all sisters, and I want to have a close relationship with my coach. Wherever that puts me, that’s where I’m going to go.”
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