KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Knoxville native and Northwest Florida State College standout Jaiden McCoy began summer classes at the University of Tennessee on Thursday and is set to play for the Lady Vol basketball team beginning with the 2019-20 season.
McCoy, a graduate of Farragut High School, spent two seasons at NWF in the National Junior College Athletic Association before signing with UT. Overcoming a series of unfortunate events that began during her senior year of high school, the 6-foot-3 center finally returned to health and displayed her abilities as a redshirt sophomore in 2018-19. She tallied 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting 57.1 percent from the field while starting all 32 games and playing 23.9 minutes per contest for the Raiders.
McCoy scored in double figures 17 times a year ago and posted 10 or more rebounds on five occasions, including four which came during double-double performances. She tallied a career-high 19 points on 8-of-8 shooting vs. Gadsden State on Nov. 24 and pulled down a career-best 12 rebounds vs. Daytona State on Nov. 3. Other career highs include seven blocked shots vs. Gadsden State on Dec. 8, four assists vs. Gulf Coast State on Jan. 26 and three steals vs. Lawson State on Nov. 17.
“Jaiden brings experience and a competitive spirit to our program,” UT head coach Kellie Harper said. “She is a solid post player who has the ability to finish around the paint as well as knock down an outside shot. She is also an intelligent and fundamental defender.”
After an injury short-circuited McCoy’s senior season of high school, she eventually committed to Louisiana Tech as a four-star prospect by ProspectsNation and a three-star player by espnW HoopGurlz. A coaching change in Ruston, however, resulted in McCoy signing instead with Virginia Tech. A coaching change occurred in Blacksburg as well, and the agile post player opted to go the junior college route, signing with Northwest Florida.
Suiting up for the Niceville, Florida, school in 2017-18, McCoy debuted with 15 points in 19 minutes during the opener vs. Volunteer State, going 6-of-6 from the field and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. Through three games, she was averaging 9.0 points in 14.7 minutes per game and shooting 65 percent from the field when calamity struck again. She suffered a broken hip in a fluke injury and was done for the season after only four games.
McCoy bounced back from adversity yet again, returning to the court in 2018-19 and playing an instrumental role as NWF advanced to the NJCAA Elite Eight before finishing with a 26-6 overall record. In addition to the offer she received from Tennessee, she drew interest from Missouri, Kansas State and St. John’s among others.
McCoy is Tennessee’s second addition of the spring signing period, following in the footsteps of 5-6 freshman guard Jessie Rennie of Bendigo, Australia. McCoy becomes the second player from the Volunteer State on the roster, joining sophomore Jazmine Massengill of Chattanooga (Hamilton Heights Christian Academy), and will be the first Knoxville player to don a Lady Vol jersey since Glory Johnson (Webb School) in 2011-12.
UT’s Fall signees included the nation’s consensus No. 1 guard and No. 2 overall player, 6-foot-2 Jordan Horston (Columbus, Ohio / Columbus Africentric Early College), as well as 6-5 center Tamari Key (Cary, N.C. / Cary H.S./No. 46 by espnW HoopGurlz) and 6-5 F/C Emily Saunders (Mullens, W.Va./Wyoming East H.S./No. 88 by ProspectsNation). Like Horston, Key is a five-star recruit, according to espnW HoopGurlz, while Saunders is a four-star prospect, as rated by ProspectsNation.com.