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Samantha Cooper: playing basketball and travelling the world

Samantha Cooper enjoys any chance to travel almost as much as she relishes competing on the basketball court.

Again in 2020-2021, the two worlds of the accomplished Lockerby Composite graduate will collide, as she recently signed on with PAS Giannini of the Greek Women's Basketball League for play, beginning in the fall.

Located in the city of Ioannina, on the shores of Lake Pamvotis, some 80 kilometres from the coastline of the Ionian Sea that separates Greece from Italy, this latest team represents the third stop of Cooper's current European Tour.

The graduate of the Fairfield University Stags in Connecticut followed up a very strong season in Luxembourg with the Grengewald Hostert by capturing SBL (Swedish Basketball League) Forward of the Year honours as a member of the Wetterbygden Sparks in 2019-2020, averaging 20.9 points per game, to go along with 14.4 rebounds.

But it is her desire to continue to grow, both as a person, exploring more of what the world has to offer, as well as a basketball player that drives the 6'2" talent to seek out bold and new adventures.

"It's a highly regarded league, so that was certainly something I talked about with my agent," she said. "I am going to have to pack a completely different suitcase, moving from northern Europe to southeastern Europe."

"Weather-wise, it will be a really nice change. I'm excited to experience the Greek culture and lifestyle, moving to a completely different area, to see what the basketball is like there."

It's an approach that has served her well.

In so many ways, Sweden provided the ideal transition from Luxembourg. "The style of play was similar to Luxembourg, to really score as many points as possible, which I really love, because that's a lot of fun to play in, offensively," she said.

"The biggest thing for me was to work on my one on one game. In low shot clock situations, I really wanted the ball. I wanted to be the one to take that last shot. That aspect of my game really improved."

"Sweden was definitely different than Luxembourg," Cooper continued. "In Luxembourg, you're thirty minutes from Germany, thirty minutes from Belgium, thirty minutes from France. But I was in the southern part of Sweden this year, so when my parents came over, we made it to Denmark and Finland, and Budapest, as well."

"In Luxembourg, everyone's english was OK, but their french was so much better. In Sweden, their english is impeccable. I used public transportation a lot, which was a great way to get to know the country, different cities, trying to figure out where you are going - even just to learn the language."

As for a long-term plan, Cooper remains non-committal. "It's something I have always gone back and forth on, and I'm still not entirely sure what my answer to that would be," she said. "I kind of go moreso year to year."

"Because I think I'm still tapping into my full potential, I'm not ready to call it quits, not until I feel that I've accomplished all that I can, become the best player that I can be."

And while she acknowledged that officials within Basketball Canada are certainly aware of the expatriates plying their trade professionally overseas, that's not the primary end goal for the 25 year-old woman.

"I would absolutely love to get the call," she said. "It's always an honour to represent your country, but that's not really what is pushing me on, at this point."

"I'm just happy to still be playing basketball and travelling the world."

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