The roller coaster ride this season has had many ups and downs, Cooper said. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even the bad times, I enjoyed every second at Auburn.
Cooper on the 17th. Prospect in the ESPN 100, was named to the SEC All-Region team after scoring 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game.
He is considered one of the best playmakers in the 2021 draft class because of his ability to create offense for himself or his teammates. He is one of two freshmen in the last 30 years of college basketball, along with Oklahoma’s Trey Young, who averaged over 20 points and 8 assists per game.
Cooper intrigues NBA teams with his ball skills and ability to get anywhere on the court with a lightning fast first step. He accelerates and slows down defenders effortlessly, while having the foresight and creativity to find teammates on the move. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Cooper led all of college basketball with 39.6 points per game scored off assists or his own, more than 20 percent higher than the next best prospect (Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois).
I think NBA teams have only glimpsed what I can do, whether it’s my creative passing, my basketball IQ, my leadership skills and my will to win, Cooper said. I’d like to say I have a lot to show for it.
Auburn’s Sharife Cooper, No. 17 in the ESPN 100, is considered one of the top players in the 2021 class. Raymond Carlin III/US Sports Today
Cooper came to Auburn with much fanfare as a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American. His season was delayed when he survived Auburn’s first 12 games because the NCAA initially refused to confirm his eligibility. Cooper missed 72 days of practice before being sidelined the night before Auburn’s game against local rival Alabama on the 9th. January was back to playing eligibility. In a game against one of the best teams in the country, Cooper scored 26 points, gave 9 assists and 3 steals in 32 minutes in a narrow loss.
It was a heartbreaking disappointment, Cooper said. You work so hard to prepare for your first college season, and then a few months before the season starts, it’s all taken away from you without knowing why or if it will ever come back.
I also couldn’t work out or stay in the gym alone until late at night. The day before the Alabama game, I got the news: Tie your shoes, you’re playing tomorrow. It was crazy because I hadn’t even rehearsed the songs and I had to play for 10-15 minutes. But looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful for my coaches, teammates, family and support staff who stood by me through it all.
Auburn imposed a suspension on itself for the 2020-21 season in November as part of an FBI investigation into former assistant coach Chuck Person, which prevented Cooper and his teammates from competing in the SEC or NCAA tournaments.
The 2021 NBA Draft takes place on July 29 and the league has set its Draft Combine for July 21. The month of June is all about health with a 5 for 5 contest.
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