D. J. Cooper
|No. 5 – PAOK|
|League||Greek Basket League|
|Born||December 6, 1990|
|Listed height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Listed weight||176 lb (80 kg)|
|High school||Hales Franciscan (Chicago, Illinois)
Seton Academy (South Holland, Illinois)
|NBA draft||2013 / Undrafted|
|Pro playing career||2013–present|
|Career highlights and awards|
D. J. Cooper (born December 6, 1990) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for PAOK in the Greek Basket League. After a successful four years at Ohio University, Cooper entered the 2013 NBA draft but was not selected in the draft's two rounds. As a player at Ohio University, Cooper cracked the top 25 all-time Division I assists leaders list early in his final season and steadily rose up on the record as the season has progressed. He was named the preseason Mid-American Conference Player of the Year by the league's media, a prediction which proved correct when he was named Player of the Year after the regular season.
Cooper grew up in the Chicago area and spent his first three years of high school at Hales Franciscan High School. By the time he was a senior, and after transferring to Seton Academy, Cooper began to get national recognition. He was named a McDonald's All-America nominee and ranked as the 30th best player overall by ESPN.com for the class of 2009. Cooper averaged approximately 16 points and seven assists per game and led Seton Academy to the school's first-ever state championship in any sport when they won Illinois' Class 2A state title.
Cooper was recruited by some high-major Division I colleges such as Kentucky and Baylor. He ultimately chose to play for Ohio University, a mid-major Division I school, and head coach John Groce because Cooper "wanted to feel like [he] was someone's main priority", which Groce made him feel. He then signed with Ohio and enrolled in the fall of 2009.
Cooper made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2009–10. He averaged 13.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He finished 11th in scoring and 17th in rebounding in the MAC, while his steals and assists ranked him 5th and 7th nationally. He was named the MAC Freshman of the Year while also helping the Bobcats upset the #3-seeded Georgetown Hoyas in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. No player in the conference recorded more minutes played than Cooper all year and he also set new school records in single-season steals (93) and assists (218).
Heading into his sophomore campaign, Cooper was tabbed as the MAC Preseason Player of the Year. Although he didn't win the award, he was still a first team all-conference selection after breaking his own school record for assists (263), while his 7.5 assists-per-game average ranked third nationally. In a game against the Miami RedHawks he scored his 1,000th career point; in another game against the Akron Zips, he almost recorded a triple-double with 25 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. The team earned a postseason bid to that year's CollegeInsider.com Tournament. They lost in the quarterfinals, however.
Cooper's junior year saw him burst onto the national scene during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The #13-seed Bobcats scored two upsets en route to the school's third ever "Sweet 16" appearance. They upset #4-seed Michigan and then took down #12-seed South Florida before finally succumbing to #1-seed North Carolina. Earlier in the season, Cooper recorded Ohio University's first-ever triple double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a win at Portland. He was named a finalist for both the Cousy Award and Lute Olson Award; at the end of the season Cooper already held the school record for career assists and needed only one more steal to surpass that record as well. He was also named a first team all-conference performer for the second year in a row.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas dubbed him as one of the best passers in the nation during Bilas' Weekly Report segment on January 29, 2013. He said of Cooper, "[He] can score, he can dish, does a great job off the pick and roll and always seems to make the right decision. He can absolutely pass it, but more important than that, he can absolutely play. He's among the best point guards in the country."
On March 5, 2013, Cooper scored 24 points at Buffalo to become the only player in the history of college basketball to record 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a career. Six days later he was named to the All-MAC First Team for the third consecutive year. Cooper finished his collegiate career with 934 assists and 328 steals, which at the time of his graduation ranked him 12th and 18th all-time, respectively, in Division I history.
- List of NCAA Division I men's basketball career assists leaders
- List of NCAA Division I men's basketball career steals leaders
- MAC Favorite Ohio Too Much for NIU in Athens. Northern Illinois University. January 16, 2013. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- Ohio's Cooper, Akron's Dambrot Receive Top MAC Honors. Mid-American Conference. March 13, 2013. Retrieved on March 13, 2013.
- Catching up with Seton grad D.J. Cooper at Ohio: Mr. D.J. music to Bobcats' ears. Chicago Tribune (Helfgot, Mike). March 8, 2010. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- D. J. Cooper bio. Ohio Bobcats. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- Ohio Star Passed Up the Majors. The New York Times (Thamel, Pete). March 17, 2012. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- D. J. Cooper Statistics. sports-reference.com. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- ESPN's Jay Bilas Names D.J. Cooper As Best Passer In the Nation. Ohio University. January 29, 2013. Retrieved on January 31, 2013.
- "Cooper Leads Ohio Past Buffalo, 72–69". OhioBobcats.com. Ohio University. March 5, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- "Three Bobcats Earn All-MAC Honors". OhioBobcats.com. Ohio University. March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
- "D.J. Cooper Named MVP Of Reese's Division I College All-Star Game". www.ohiobobcats.com. Ohio University. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "D.J. Cooper To Play Professionally In Greece". OhioBobcats.com. Ohio University. August 26, 2013. Retrieved August 27, 2013.