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Tech women's basketball locks up six high school seniors

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Six outstanding high school seniors four four different states have signed national letters of intent to join the Tennessee Tech women's basketball program, third-year head coach Amy Brown announced this week.

The newest Golden Eagles include Tiara Hopper, Haley Ervin, Katy Cooke, Kathryn Barker, Kylie Cook and Kellie Cook, who will join the Tech basketball team in the fall of 2009. They will make their way to Cookeville from Texas, Alabama and Kentucky, as well as two from Tennessee.

Hopper, a 5-11 forward, is a long, athletic player with the ability to score. At Butler Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky., she earned the teams most improved player award, and MVP of the state title game, leading her team to the 2008 Kentucky State Championship.

"We look for Tiara to make an immediate impact with her aggressive style and her ability to score," Brown said.

Ervin, a six-foot senior from Cleveland, Tenn., has great size at the guard and forward position. She is a versatile player with the ability shoot from long range, drive to the basket, and pull up and hit a jump shot.

In her junior year at Bradley Central High School, Ervin scored approximately 10 points per game, along with 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

"Haley has an extremely high basketball IQ, and we're fortunate to have her as one of our two Tennessee signees," Brown said. "She brings great size and talent, and she is going to fit in well with the personality of this team."

Cooke, a 5-7 natural point guard, comes from Marble Falls, Texas. She led Marble Falls High School to the Texas 4A final four in 2007, and earned the district defensive player of the year award.

"Katy is a fiery, gutsy floor general," Brown said. "She has an understanding that a true point guard is not necessarily a scoring position, but one more focused on getting the ball where it needs to be."

Barker, a standout at Sequatchie High School in Dunlap, Tenn., comes from a family of Tech basketball players. In the 1980's, both her mother and aunt, Anita and Rebecca Myers, played for the Golden Eagles.

"Her dream was to play basketball at the next level, and we are very blessed that she gets to do that," said her mother and coach, Anita Baker. "I'm glad she has the opportunity to play at such a great school. I have a special place in my heart for Tennessee Tech."

The 5-9 guard was an All-District and All-Region selection after her junior season, and was an all tournament selection.

"We are very happy to have Katherine," Brown said. "She is an all around team player who will do whatever it takes to win."

Identical twins Kylie and Kellie Cook round out the Golden Eagle signees. The sisters hail from Madison, Ala., and both stand 5 feet, 11 inches tall.

"With them playing together for so long, they are always able to find each other on the floor, and get they're teammates involved," said Tim Miller, their current high school coach. "They make it about the team, and not each other."

With her strength and size, Kylie will play the four spot for Tech. A versatile player, she also has the ability to step out and knock down the three point shot, and is a shutdown defender on the other end of the floor. After her junior season, Kylie was an All-Area selection.

"Kylie is just a gritty player who wants to win," Brown said. "She is very strong fundamentally, she has a great passion, and she comes from a championship background."

Her twin sister Kellie was the team's captain and leading scorer at Bob Jones High School.

"Kellie has great size at the three position, and has a tremendous passion for the game," Brown said. "She always makes the right decision with the ball.

"These two have played together throughout their careers and are very happy in that capacity, which will be a plus for them on the floor."

Kellie and Kylie led Bob Jones High School to the Alabama 6A state championship.

"With them playing together for so long, they can always find each other on the floor," said Tim Miller, the head coach at BJHS. "They're the type of kids who will run through the wall for you. They make everything about the team, not each other."

At the end of the 2008 season, the Golden Eagles will lose four seniors to graduation, so Brown and her staff have put together a large recruiting class for the second straight year.

"The goal was to improve, and add depth to each position," Brown said. "We couldn't be happier to get these early commitments, that is always the goal of the staff."