Valley Preps

Why Carver basketball star Cochran chose this ACC school as her college destination

Olivia Cochran’s summer is going pretty well.

Cochran, who did not play basketball until middle school, led Carver to its first-ever state title in March. She then led Team USA in scoring (41 points in seven games) as it won the FIBA 3x3 U18 Women’s World Cup in June, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Now, she’ll be playing Division I basketball.

Cochran announced her commitment to Atlantic Coast Conference side Louisville over the weekend, via Twitter. She’s ranked No. 12 in the Class of 2020 by Prospect Nation, and ranks as the No. 21 prospect in the U.S., according to ESPN.

“I could smell it,” Cochrain said of the first time she stepped on Louisville’s campus. “I said, ‘I can smell I can play here.’ It was just a good atmosphere. ... When I got there, it felt like home.”

Cochran, the Ledger-Enquirer’s 2019 All-Bi-City girls player of the year, said she felt a closer bond to Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz, a factor that went a long way in her decision. She called the coach “genuine” and “real.”

“This is a huge deal for her,” Carver basketball coach Anson Hundley said. “She’s worked extremely hard to get to this point in her career. She’s a very humble kid. She’s the leader of our team. I’m just very excited for her and her future with Louisville.”

Hundley credits Cochran’s work ethic to her success. He said the senior had put in extra work to get in better shape — a period the two “can laugh about now.” That, Hundley said, was when he knew he had a special player on his hands.

Cochran’s ESPN scouting report describes her as a “power-body interior performer,” who competes on both offense and defense.

As a junior center for Carver, Cochran averaged 27 points, 16 rebounds and 8 blocks per game. She scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA girls state final, a 56-44 victory over Spalding to cap an undefeated (32-0) season for the Tigers.

The next month, in April, Cochran was named most valuable player at USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 National Championship tournament at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Her team won the title, going 7-1 with three AAU teammates from Atlanta-based FBC (Finest Basketball Club): Madison Hayes of East Hamilton High School (Ooltewah, Tennessee), Treasure Hunt of Hamilton Heights High School (Chattanooga, Tennessee) and Raven Johnson of Westlake High School (Atlanta).

Cochran was named to the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s first-team AAAA All-State team in 2018 and 2019. She won’t be the first of her family to play Division I sports, either.

Her mother, Tara Williams, was a second-team All-SEC guard as a senior at Auburn in 1997 and played two seasons in the WNBA (1997 for Phoenix and 2000 for Portland). Her father, Antonio Cochran, was a defensive lineman at Georgia and was picked by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth road of the 1999 NFL draft. He played five seasons for Seattle and one season for the Arizona Cardinals.

Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.