Cooper inks with SSU men’s hoops

PORTSMOUTH — The Shawnee State University men’s basketball program gained a major addition to its 2021-22 roster — with the addition of former Triton College, Louisiana State and Southern Utah standout Courtese Cooper.

Cooper — a 6-10, 225-pound forward — will have two seasons of eligibility beginning with this coming season.

Cooper — who played basketball and volleyball at Elgin High School in Elgin, Ill. — picked up the roundball late, but grew into a dominant force for the Maroons as a senior in 2017.

He notched 14.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.8 blocks to earn Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Class 4A second-team all-state honors.

In earning second-team all-state billing, Cooper earned higher honors than current Los Angeles Laker Talen Horton-Tucker and nationally-ranked recruit Francis Okoro — who signed with Oregon out of high school and now plays at Saint Louis.

Current Ohio State Buckeye E.J. Liddell was on the same second-team all-state unit as Cooper.

Bringing winning

edge to Elgin

After starring in the winter for Elgin’s basketball program and improving to a consistent double-double and defensive power in the low post, Cooper finished out his career starring for Elgin’s boys volleyball team — where he used his then 6-8 frame to record an astonishing 156 blocks as the team’s middle blocker on its front line.

Having earned all-area and all-conference honors twice in basketball, Cooper was arguably better at the sport of volleyball in high school — notching all-area and all-conference honors three times in his four-year varsity career.

However, his raw talent — coupled with a promising upside due to his new experiences within the sport of basketball — made Cooper an ideal recruit to pick up late in the recruiting process.

Cooper leads

Trojans to top

Enter Triton College — which, right away, become a major benefactor for their belief in Cooper.

Not only did Cooper win a starting spot for Triton, he did much more — leading the Trojans all the way to the 2018 National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship.

In doing so, Cooper was one of only three players on the entire Triton roster to appear in each of the team’s 37 games — and one of only two to start in at least 36 of the 37.

He averaged 10 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest while shooting a strong 56-percent from the field and 39-percent from three-point range, helping Triton win 26 of their final 27 games en route to becoming not only the No. 1-ranked NJCAA D-II unit in the country, but the national champion as well.

Following that season, Cooper was able to garner interest from LSU, Cincinnati and Arkansas, and ultimately signed with LSU — where he played the 2019-20 season before making the move to Southern Utah for the 2020-21 campaign.

In 22 combined games with both LSU and Southern Utah, Cooper averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds, while shooting over 80-percent from the field (9-of-11 overall) in his limited shot attempts.

He also averaged over half-a-block per game for LSU — despite averaging just six minutes.

Cooper, now at 6-10, will be Shawnee State’s tallest player on the interior once the season starts.

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