SE: Meet the Newcomers | Cheyenne Hooper

   
September 16, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart
  
Cheyenne Hooper may have taken an unusual path getting to K-State, but now that she’s settled in the Little Apple, she couldn’t be happier.
  
Describing her journey to Manhattan as “a wild ride,” the freshman center with the Wildcat women’s basketball team almost went to a completely different school to play a completely different sport.
  
“It took me a while to finally realize that I wanted to play basketball and that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing,” said Hooper who originally committed to Central Florida to play volleyball. “AAU was about to start up, and it was my last chance. I just love playing basketball, and once I realized that, I got in touch with the Kentucky Premier coach. I tried out and they took me on their team. I went to Nike tournaments; it was almost like I had to start the recruiting process over. Everyone had stopped recruiting me since I had switched to volleyball.”
  
It was then, the summer between her junior and senior year of high school, that Hooper first heard from K-State.  
   
“I had heard about K-State but I didn’t know much about the program,” she continued. “Actually, I didn’t know anything about it. So I talked to Coach (Jeff) Mittie. He said, ‘I wanted to let you know we’re offering you a full ride. I’d love for you to come up here and visit.’”
  
Making the decision a little easier, Hooper wasn’t alone when it came to visiting and deciding upon K-State. Long-time teammate, Anna Hammaker (you can click here to read Hammker’s Meet the Newcomer story), was also looking at becoming a Wildcat. 
  
All it took was one visit, and the duo was sold.  
  
“Anna and I were fortunate enough to come at the same time for a visit and we just loved it,” said Hooper. “I remember being in the car with her and looking around and saying, ‘This is it. This is where we’re going to go.’”
  
Fast forward to today, almost four months after they showed up ready to compete with the Wildcats, and Hooper and Hammaker are now enjoying their time at K-State as both roommates and teammates.
  
“It’s helpful to have my best friend there,” added Hooper. “I’d never played on a basketball team without her. I know she’s going through the same thing I am, and I know if she can do it, so can I.”
  
At 6-foot-6, Hooper is tied with Olga Firsova (1998-00) as the tallest women’s basketball player in K-State history. She was ranked No. 17 in the nation at her position by ESPN Hoopgurlz (2015) and ranks fourth in Tennessee state high school history for career blocks with 372 – all without playing basketball her junior season to focus on volleyball.  
  
Along with her size, Hooper brings talent and athleticism to the court and has spent her time at K-State this summer growing her game alongside K-State junior forward Breanna Lewis. Last season, Lewis broke the K-State record for blocks in a season with 97 and was named to the 2015 Big 12 All-Defensive Team for her stellar sophomore campaign. 
  
While Hooper knows she has big shoes to follow, she’s focused on simply helping her team and helping Lewis continue success any way she can.
  
“Obviously, every freshman that comes into a program wants to play, but my goal is to be Bre’s backup at this point because I understand and respect the years she’s spent here and the time and work she’s put in,” said Hooper. “It’s her rightful place, but it’s not going to stop me from coming to practice every day and trying to beat her out of it. I know she’s going to have that starting spot, but we are making each other better. I want her on the floor doing great and she wants me on the floor doing great, so I want to be able to practice hard enough to be at that level where if I get subbed in, there isn’t a drop off. I want to be able to stay in the game and help out.”
  
Though her path to K-State was a winding one, now that she’s here, Hooper couldn’t be happier with how her journey played out. 
  
“Being at K-State has been great,” she said. “The opportunities that I have already had being on the basketball team, it’s so much fun. People come up to me in class and tell me they’re excited to come to my games, and they don’t even know me; they’ve never seen me play. The people here, they’re all really nice; it’s been great.”
  
K-State’s 2015-16 home schedule features 19 home games including: two exhibition games, eight non-conference games and nine Big 12 contests. K-State women’s basketball season tickets for the 2015-16 season are available now for purchase. For more information on season ticket packages for the Wildcats’ 19-game home schedule, contact the K-State Athletics Ticket Office by calling 1-800-221-CATS or visit www.kstatesports.com/tickets.
   

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