It’s been a busy offseason for new Lady Vols head coach Kellie Harper. Not only has she had to adjust to life as a new head coach in Knoxville and put together her coaching staff, but she’s had to make several changes to Tennessee’s roster as well. On Monday night, the Lady Vols made another change and welcomed in yet another new face.
Jaiden McCoy, a 6-foot-3 post player in the JUCO ranks who is originally from Knoxville, announced on Instagram on Monday night that she has committed to play for the Lady Vols after taking a visit to campus with her family. Her path to Tennessee’s women’s basketball program was anything but straightforward, though.
McCoy played both at Webb School of Knoxville and at Farragut in high school, and she was originally committed to play for Louisiana Tech as a member of their 2016 class. But once then-head coach Tyler Summitt, the son of Lady Vol legend Pat Summitt, resigned due to the fallout from an inappropriate relationship with a Louisiana Tech player, McCoy reopened her recruitment.
After that, McCoy committed to Virginia Tech and enrolled. Before the basketball season even began, however, McCoy pulled herself out of Tech and returned back home to Knoxville.
Once in Knoxville, McCoy enrolled at Pellissippi State Community College and gave up basketball temporarily, getting a job in retail.
McCoy missed the sport, though, and she ended up getting back into basketball at the junior college level. She enrolled at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida in June of 2017. But once there, she suffered another setback. McCoy broke her hip and had to have surgery, causing her to miss all but one game of the 2017-18 season for the Raiders.
Finally, in the 2018-19 season, McCoy was healthy and could show what she could do.
The 6-foot-3 post player started all 32 games for Northwest Florida State in the 2018-19 season, and she averaged 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game. She was the second-leading scorer for the Raiders and was third on the team in rebounding. She also averaged an assist per game and nearly a block per game while shooting 57.1 percent overall and 66.7 percent from the free throw line. McCoy helped the Raiders to a 26-6 record and helped them reach the Elite Eight of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.
As of now, McCoy has two years of eligibility with the Lady Vols, but she may end up with a third since she only played one game for Northwest Florida State during the 2017-18 season due to her broken hip.
The Lady Vols have welcomed in five new faces to the roster this offseason so far. McCoy joins four other newcomers as part of Tennessee’s 2019 signing class. New head coach Kellie Harper retained Tennessee’s fall signees in five-star guard Jordan Horston, four-star center Tamari Key, and forward/center Emily Saunders. She then helped sign UT commit and Australian guard Jessie Rennie for the spring signing period.
The Lady Vols will also welcome back Australian forward Lou Brown for next season after she missed the entire 2018-19 season with a torn ACL.
Tennessee has had room to make all these additions because of two offseason transfers. Starting guard Evina Westbrook announced last week she is transferring to UConn, and guard Mimi Collins has put her name in the NCAA transfer portal but has yet to choose a destination.