Hoop With Coop: A Point Guard from Georgia Gives The World An Introduction

Photo courtesy of Position Sports/Jon Lopez/Nike

By David Cordova

The Class of 2020 has a lot of outstanding Division I talent on display, especially in the point guard department. There are several players that play wise beyond their years and show plenty of promise for the upcoming future.

One of those players is Sharife Cooper. The 6-foot-1 floor general from Powder Springs, Georgia, is one of the best guards in his class. He may have a baby face, but don’t let that fool you, because when he steps on the court, he plays chess while everyone plays checkers.

When asked what motivates him to be successful on the court, he replied, “Just the competitive nature. The way I grew up is just to always compete every time I go out there.”

Cooper’s strengths are that he likes to attack the basket and create for his teammates and also shoot from long-distance, as well as coming off of pick and rolls, and playing defense. However, things he plans to improve on is getting stronger physically and also building more athleticism.

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Cooper attempts to crossover the Ranney School’s Scottie Lewis during the City of Palms Classic. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography).

In the state of Georgia, primarily the metropolitan Atlanta area, there is a hoops renaissance of talented players and programs that provide a lot of competition. When asked about what it’s like to be from Georgia and the hoops climate out there, Cooper replied, “It’s crazy, a lot of great players came out of Georgia, it’s a lot of hype right now, so every time you go out, it’s like a packed crowd.”

Cooper attends McEachern High School, the school in which former NBA star Josh Smith played for three years. As a freshman, Cooper led the Indians to a 29-1 record and an appearance in the GHSA Class 7A state semfinals, while averaging 16 points and 4.4 assists per game.

This past season, the world took notice as he put up a dominant performance at the prestigious City of Palms tournament in Fort Myers, Florida in December, where he scored 42 points against Hudson Catholic of Jersey City, NJ. He would also lead the Indians to a 26-3 record and another trip to the GHSA Class 7A state semifinals. In his time at McEachern, he has led the program to a 55-4 record.

When asked about his sophomore year, Cooper replied, “I had a great sophomore year, I felt like I broke out on to the national stage and I don’t know, I’m just going to take that experience and apply it to my junior year.”

On his 42-point explosion at City of Palms, “I mean, that’s where, that’s one of the couple of times that I did that, but it was on a national stage so, I feel like that really got my name out there. But, I try to compete against anybody, so that was just one of them.”

Cooper was one of the founding members of the Athletes of Tomorrow (commonly known as AOT) program, which was started in 2009, by his father, Omar Cooper. Today, the program is one of the premier squads on the Nike EYBL circuit.

“It’s a family-type of program, we’ve been which each other since we were little kids and we love each other, and we’re brothers around here,” says Cooper of his humble beginnings on AOT.

“He’s a good kid, straight-A, B student, you know. Always thinks of others before he thinks of himself, he takes losing very hard, he hates to lose more than he likes to win, so that’s the mentality that I like him to have, so he works hard and I’m proud of him.” said his father, Omar Cooper, Sr.

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Cooper has the face of a competitor every time he’s on the court. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography).

This past spring, the younger Cooper has been a force on the circuit, averaging 20.9 points, 6.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game as he led AOT to a 13-3 record and a berth in the Nike Peach Jam, which will be held July 11-15 at Riverview Park Activities Center in North Augusta, South Carolina.

Last year, AOT steamrolled their way to the E16 finals of the Peach Jam, only to lose to the CP3 All-Stars. Their mission this year, is to return to the championship game, on the EYBL stage, and to win it all.

When asked about making it to the championship game last year, Cooper replied, “It was a great experience. It brings experience now that I’m on 17U, just to be in the Peach Jam, and to have to get the wins to get into Peach Jam. It just brings experience along with the atmosphere.”

In regards to his recruitment, Cooper has been garnering attention from plenty of programs around the nation, including as of late, Seton Hall, USC, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Arizona State. “It’s picking up right now, I’m a junior now, so I don’t really know right now, I’m still taking it all in,” he replied.

This past weekend at the Pangos All-American Camp in Cerritos, California, Cooper had an outstanding performance as he shot 50% from three-point range and averaged 14.3 points per game throughout the weekend, and made the camp’s Top 30 Cream of the Crop All-Star Game.

Cooper will compete in the Nike Elite 100 camp this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri and will use the rest of the month to practice and get ready for Peach Jam.

His mission for Peach Jam? “Definitely win the championship, that’s our goal right now.”

And other goals for the summer? “Get a lot stronger, jump a lot higher, get taller, and just get better.”

When all of that happens, beware of, but remember the name, Sharife Cooper.

Highlights of Sharife Cooper:

Courtesy of Hoop Diamonds.

Courtesy of Hoop Diamonds.

Courtesy of OST 247.

Courtesy of Take Flight Hoops.

Courtesy of Take Flight Hoops.

Courtesy of OST 247.

Courtesy of Hoop Diamonds.

Courtesy of OST 247.

Courtesy of Ballislife.

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