Before he left his post at College Court Report, Trent Brinkley caught up with former Cape Fear C.C. Sea Devils‘ forward Tyrek Coger at the end of March to discuss his basketball journey and commitment to the Ole Miss Rebels.
Out of high school, Ole Miss recruited the talented forward, but he opted for the junior college route, playing at Eastern Florida State College for one seasons before transferring to Cape Fear C.C. With his familiarity with the Rebels, his decision was made a little bit easier after the 2015-16 season came to a close.
However, due to the transfer rules for junior college players in the SEC, Coger was deemed ineligible to transfer to Ole Miss, thus re-opening his recruitment.
Teams lined up to recruit Coger, but ones who were in need of a power forward made the biggest push. In the end, Coger committed to Brad Underwood and the Oklahoma State Cowboys for the 2016-17 season.
Through his work ethic and love for the game of basketball, Coger fit right in with his new teammates, and Underwood raved about his abilities, as did his former coaches.
Things looked like they were going according to plan for Coger in his new home. He has been in Oklahoma since July 5th, and was taking part in conditioning workouts with the team to get ready for the upcoming season.
That’s when tragedy struck.
On Thursday afternoon, the Cowboys were taking part in a conditioning workout outdoors on the football stadium stairs. The temperature at the time was 99 degrees, but with the humidity, it felt more like 106 degrees.
During the workouts, Coger showed no signs of distress. After the 40-minute workout was completed, coaches and teammates noticed that he was having some issues, and proceeded to call 9-1-1. The call was placed at 5:05pm, and Coger was taken to the hospital for further examination.
Shortly thereafter, at 6:23pm on Thursday evening, Coger was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Coger had health problems prior to his days at Eastern Florida State College, but had reportedly recuperated well from his conditions. He had complained of frequent headaches in high school, and had surgery to drain excess fluid from around his brain to help with the issues.
At the time, it wasn’t known if that was related to his passing. Later, it was determined in an e-mail to the Associated Press that Coger had passed away from an enlarged heart, and that his passing was deemed ‘natural’.
Coach Underwood was on a recruiting trip in Las Vegas at the time of Coger’s passing, In his press conference to address Coger’s passing, Underwood stated that these were the “hardest couple of days” that he’s ever experienced in his coaching career, as he wiped away tears.
Tyrek Coger had been in Oklahoma only 17 days before his passing.
Tyrek Coger had the whole package, and was the type of player that coaches wanted on their team. From his on-court performances and work ethic to his off-court demeanor, Coger was the model player for what coaches look for in recruits.
Standing at 6’8”, he was a big body that was going to bolster a Cowboys’ front court that needed a talented body inside. At Cape Fear in 2015-16, Coger averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest, while shooting an impressive 52.6% from the field.
He was known as a player who was mild-mannered and easy-going off the court, but was a different animal once he stepped foot on the hardwood. Coger would do whatever was needed to get the job done on the court, and his work ethic was second-to-none. He aimed for greatness in anything he did, and left his mark on the hardwood over his 22-year life.
In his interview with College Court Report, Coger was asked what he wanted to be remembered by. He said, ““Remember me as a team first player, and a student-athlete that I put God first before each game.”
That we will do, Tyrek.
May you rest in peace, Tyrek. You may be gone from the physical world, but you will never be forgotten. You have touched so many people, leaving them with positive memories that will last a lifetime.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Coger’s family, friends, loved ones, and the basketball communities around Word of God Christian Academy, Eastern Florida State College, Cape Fear C.C., Ole Miss, and Oklahoma State during this difficult time.