Former South Carolina basketball point guard signs first NBA contract

South Carolina basketball alum Ta'Lon Cooper signed an Exhibit-10 contract with the NBA's Orlando Magic.
Former South Carolina basketball point guard Ta'Lon Cooper
Former South Carolina basketball point guard Ta'Lon Cooper / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA Draft has come and gone, but no players from the South Carolina basketball program were selected. However, that does not mean that none of the players from the Gamecocks' 2023-2024 NCAA Tournament team have an NBA future.

On Friday, Jake Weingarten of broke the news that Carolina's starting point guard from this past season, Palmetto State native Ta'Lon Cooper, was signing a contract with the Orlando Magic. The deal is an Exhibit-10 contract, meaning that Cooper will get a guaranteed tryout with the team and could be transferred to a two-way contract in which he could be part of both the Orlando Magic and their NBA G League affiliate, the Osceola Magic.

Former Gamecock guard Hassani Gravett signed an Exhibit-10 deal with the Magic ahead of the 2021-2022 season, and he had his contract upgraded to a two-way deal. Gravett eventually made his way up to the NBA squad and shot over 40% on 3-pointers with the Magic. Cooper is hoping that he can follow the same path as Gravett and earn his way from an Exhibit-10 contract to the team's NBA active roster.

Cooper has a lot of NBA-ready traits that make him an intriguing prospect to follow.

Weighing over 200 pounds and standing 6'4" with long arms, Cooper will have a size and strength advantage over many other point guards, helping make up for his lack of extreme athleticism. He also is a tough and hard-nosed player who is good on defense and switchable on that end of the floor. He knocked down over 40% of his 3-pointers in garnet and black, and he proved himself to be a player who can help a team out as a fundamental rebounder, as well.

Cooper played just one year with the South Carolina basketball team, joining the program as a graduate transfer ahead of the 2023-2024 campaign. He averaged 10 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal in his final year of college ball, and he was one of the country's leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio. His 46% shooting from outside was one of the best in the nation, as well, and his efforts earned him All-SEC honors.

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