Cooper, Sr. foresees success for UA

Now that Arizona has landed Brandon Ashley, Eric Cooper Sr. foresees plenty of success. Read on to see how he thinks Ashley and Grant Jerrett will co-exist, Sean Miller's success, and more.

By now, just about everyone is familiar with the recruiting successes of Sean Miller so far in the class of 2012 as Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, and Grant Jerrett make for a class that is currently one of the best in the country.

However, some are worried that Arizona may be creating a potential log-jam for itself in the post by bringing in Ashley and Jerrett alongside Sidiki Johnson, Angelo Chol, and Kyryl Natyazhko in 2012. Specifically, some are concerned with Ashley and Jerrett's ability to occupy the floor at the same time.

La Verne Lutheran head coach Eric Cooper, Sr., who has spent several years coaching Jerrett and coaching against Ashley, does not see any problem with having the two in the same frontcourt and foresees a difficult road ahead for opposing teams attempting to defend the duo.

"Getting Brandon Ashley is a good look for Arizona," Cooper, Sr. said. "With all of these guys, people are wondering why they're getting two kids at the same position, but they're not necessarily the same players. You can have kids that are similar size that are on the court at the same time but are playing different.

"Grant and Brandon are giving different things to the game and I think it'll be a great fit. It's going to be hard to stick those guys added to the guys they already have. It's just a great look overall."

Sean Miller's recruiting success heading into just his third season is, in Cooper's eyes, a reflection of the type of man Arizona has at the helm of its basketball program.

"To have the number recruiting class at this point is something that was probably unexpected," Cooper, Sr. said. "It's something that's phenomenal, it's not normal. He's not a normal coach though, and to be in the Elite Eight after what he had been through with changing schools, and having already broke through at Xavier, he was already a coach that could get there. To come here and implement the same system, it's incredible and it shows how special he is as a coach."

While only a handful of players remain from the pre-Miller days, Cooper, Sr. knows that Coach Miller's best days are in front of him and that he's doing what it takes to keep his program moving forward.

"My hat goes off to him and he hasn't even gotten to play with the class of kids that he's highly recruited yet," Cooper, Sr. said. "He hasn't even broken into those kids that he has recruited himself with all of his successes, he's done it with kids that were already at Arizona during the down period.

"Once he gets his own kids in there after all of this success, it's not going to do anything but continue on what the current kids have already established. Kyle Fogg, Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill and those guys have started it back up again. It's cool to get it started, but how do you keep it running? You keep it running with good recruiting, and that's what Sean's doing at this point."

There are still two full seasons before Cooper, Sr.'s son, Eric Cooper, Jr., arrives in Tucson for his freshman year, and the elder Cooper hopes that the program continues to match the accomplishments of the 2010-11 season in the upcoming couple of years.

"I'm hoping that before Eric gets there, they have at least another Elite Eight appearance," Cooper, Sr. said. "I'm hoping everything he's established is still continuing, and I can't say he's going to get to the Final Four or anything, but that's the goal.

"I would love to see them get to the Final Four and his players get recognized for having high-level talent. With Elite Eight runs, Sweet 16 runs, it keeps you in the mix when you can continually keep doing that. You have to hang around there and then you can squeak in there, and that's what the hope is."


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