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South Carolina point guard Zia Cooke scores wins on and off the court

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

It's nearly time for college basketball's big dance. March Madness starts in just over a week. And South Carolina point guard Zia Cooke wants to lead the Gamecocks to their first women's national championship since 2017.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Here she is making a big basket against the Connecticut Huskies last November.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED COMMENTATOR: Shot clock down to seven. Cooke lost her dribble, in trouble. Tough shot - but she makes tough shots.

MARTINEZ: In a world where sports played by men has always had way more attention, Cooke is nabbing the spotlight and some big sponsorship deals. The tax preparation company H&R Block launched a $1 million campaign called A Fair Shot specifically for college women athletes like Cooke.

ZIA COOKE: It means a lot to me just because it shows me that H&R Block noticed me. They noticed my talent. And they wanted me to be one of the girls to let women know that we can do anything men do. We can - we have the same amount of opportunities.

MARTIN: The NCAA changed its rules last year, allowing college athletes to make money with their name, their image and likeness.

MARTINEZ: Male athletes make far more than their female counterparts from these sponsorship deals.

COOKE: We're all here to win. We all put the same amount of work in. It'll be a big presence if we see that for the NCAA tournament, that things are just fair all around with women and men.

MARTIN: Her team is currently ranked No. 1 in women's basketball. So we will see that winning spirit on the court.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATT LARGE'S "DIFFERENT TYPE OF VIBEO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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