South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock guard to play in pre-NBA Draft invitational

South Carolina basketball guard Ta'Lon Cooper will play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in front of NBA scouts.
South Carolina basketball point guard Ta'Lon Cooper
South Carolina basketball point guard Ta'Lon Cooper / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball had a fairly balanced starting lineup this season. Meechie Johnson and BJ Mack finished the year as the top overall scorers, freshman Collin Murray-Boyles showed the most ability of anyone on the team, and wings Myles Stute and Zach Davis split the season as the starting 3 and each had some big games.

However, there's a good argument to make that the most important player on the team this year was point guard Ta'Lon Cooper.

Cooper was a floor general for the Gamecocks, putting together a ridiculous 3.5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as he guided the methodically-paced Carolina attack. He also led the entire country in halfcourt assist-to-turnover ratio, also dishing out 3.5 dimes per turnover in those situations, as well.

He often let his teammates handle the scoring (a good point guard loves to pass the ball), but he scored at least 15 points five times this year, including 38 combined points on 14-21 (6-9) shooting in the Gamecocks' big wins over Kentucky and Tennessee.

For the year, Cooper shot a sniper-like 46% from the perimeter while usually guarding one of the two best perimeter players on the opposing team. He also scored from all three levels (including posting up smaller guards) and chipped in 4.2 rebounds per game.

His big final season of college ball earned him some NBA recognition, and because of that, the South Carolina native has received an invitation to play in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. The PIT is a pre-NBA Combine tournament for seniors where NBA and international scouts come out to see some of the older draft-eligible players who might not be getting as much media hype as they deserve.

Some of the very best players in the history of the sport have been PIT alums. Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, John Stockton, Jimmy Butler, Ben Wallace, and Tim Hardaway all played in the PIT after their college playing days ended.

Other players used a strong showing in Portsmouth to earn an NBA opportunity that many didn't think they could get. Players like Wallace, Robert Covington, Wesley Matthews, and JaMychal Green earned undrafted free agent opportunities in the association, in part, due to how they performed in the PIT. Ta'Lon Cooper is hoping that he will be next on that list.

The PIT will be played at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Virginia from April 17th-20th. South Carolina basketball fans who want to stream Cooper's tournament games can find them on the PIT website's link on

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