Best friends celebrate signing to rival ACC schools

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ZuTorya Cook and Erika Cassell (Thomas Scott)
ZuTorya Cook and Erika Cassell (Thomas Scott)

ZuTorya Cook and Erika Cassell (Thomas Scott)

Together at the same table this week, Erika Cassell and ZuTorya Cook signed scholarship papers to play basketball at N.C. State and Georgia Tech.

The two were celebrated by family, friends, teammates and coaches at their joint signing party Wednesday night in Smyrna.

Cassell and Cook admitted that it would be awkward initially facing each other in opposing uniforms in the ACC, the two friends complimented each other’s game but emphasized that they will still do what it takes to win.

“I know from playing with (Erika) that she always blocks everybody’s shots,” Cook said. “So I’m ready to go shoot on her and tell her ‘Yeah, you’re not going to block my shot’.”

Cassell countered by letting her friend know that she wasn’t going to make it easy for her.

“I’m a post and (ZuTorya) is a guard, so I’m going to get on all my teammates and let them know her strengths and weaknesses,” Cassell said.

Cassell, a 6-foot-2 forward at Holy Innocents Episcopal School, and Cook, a 5-foot-7 guard at Osbourne High School, will become ACC rivals after years of playing together on the same AAU team.

The two have been playing together since they were in the sixth grade and became close friends. They have traveled together and roomed together on road trips for tournaments. Both received offers from several Div. I programs.

Cassell had offers from Baylor, Elon, Georgia Tech, Florida, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech. She committed to N.C. State last November after an unofficial visit to the school.

Cassell joins guard Aislinn Konig from Canada and guard Kiana Rudd from North Carolina as one of three ESPNU Hoop Gurlz 100 players that have already committed to the Wolfpack. The three commitments has made N.C. State one of the top recruiting classes for 2016.

Cook was pursued by Purdue, N.C. State, Stony Brook and UAB. She is the 27th ranked point guard in the country and a highly decorated athlete. Cook earned AJC All-State honors in three consecutive years. She made the AJC AAAAA All-State team in 2013, the AJC AAAAA All-State 1st team in 2014 and the AJC AAAAAA All-State 2nd team in 2015.

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