ROBBINSDALE, Minn. (WCCO) – Rashad Vaughn is one of those blue chippers. Every high power college program has an interest in the Robbinsdale Cooper junior.

It’s difficult to believe when you watch him, but growing up, Rashad Vaughn was not the star of the team.

“I just started working hard and started seeing stuff that was going to happen,” Vaughn said.

He’s now being courted across the country by so many top programs, he can’t even keep up.

“Baylor, Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas, the Gophers, Iowa State, Florida, Texas…I mean, I can’t think of them all now,” he said.

He’s not the first Cooper star to garner that attention. This is the home of Rodney Williams – a role model and friend.

“We’re pretty close, you know, we talk now and then. He’ll come over to the gym and we’ll go at it sometimes. But yeah, he talks to me sometimes about the U of M and what’s good, and stuff like that…he can fly,” said Vaughn.

But his basketball career and his season has a motivation beyond his own future. It’s about the past.

“I was in the gym working out and got that call, man. One of the worst days,” he said.

That was the day his teammate and friend, Kalonyea Wopea, collapsed while playing basketball at the Y last year. He died of heart failure, leaving behind a loving family and group of teammates who carry his memory. Vaughn wears a t-shirt and button to remind him, and to push himself.

“We always, before a game, have a moment of silence,” he said. “I just keep wearing his shirt and carrying his legacy on.”

Maybe the greatest tribute he can pay him is to keep playing, keep moving forward, and maybe someday a dream will be realized.

“The goal’s just, you know, get to the NBA. So that’s the dream, that’s the goal. That’s what I want to do,” Vaughn said.


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