Matt Visinsky

SMU showing interest in 2016 wing

Hatts talked with 2016 Washington Academy wing Elijah Cooper about meeting SMU assistant KT Turner and his recruitment.

SMU continued their undefeated season earlier this week defeating ECU, but SMU assistant coach K.T Turner paid a visit to 2016 Washington Academy (NC) power forward Elijah Cooper to see him in action and tell him a little bit about SMU before the game. 

“It was real good; it was my first time seeing SMU, like seeing one of their coaches in all my years of playing high school basketball so it was pretty good, them coming up and meeting the coach, talking to him briefly so I mean it was a good experience overall,” Cooper said, “I’m looking forward to talking to him again hopefully visiting and getting more involved being recruited by them.”  

Turner explained to Cooper and his coaches that SMU will have a couple of open scholarships to use on the roster next season but they are looking for the right players to fit their system, and they believe Cooper is one of those guys. 

“From what the coaches told me, they are looking for a guy like myself, a 6’6 wing that can shoot the ball, handle the ball, play inside and outside, defend and just be an all-around player,” Cooper said, “We talked about the game vs. ECU tonight, the type of offense that they run and things like that and he exchanged numbers with one of my coaches, so I’m pretty sure he’ll be back in the couple of weeks as we get more involved with each other.”

The 6-7 forward was very familiar with SMU because of Larry Brown, but he came away from the meeting impressed by the opportunities that would be available to him at SMU and after. 

“My impression was it was real good, like I know I’ve heard of Larry Brown being a NBA coach and the players that he develops,” Cooper said, “I was really excited that they came knowing the type of coaches that they have and the type of players that they produce, NBA players and pro players so that really caught my eye and just it was a great experience overall.” 

As of right now Cooper only has one offer from South Carolina State, but once he gets his SAT scores back in a couple of weeks he expects that number to rise. 

Once the offers do start coming in for the versatile forward, he plans to take many of his visits in the month following that before settling on a school. 

“I was planning to probably take more visits in late February and March and then hopefully get the recruiting process over with by April,” Cooper said. 

Beside the offer from South Carolina State, Cooper has been receiving interest from St. John's, Temple, Illinois, St Joseph's and Richmond. 

Cooper’s coaches have mostly been the one’s communicating with the staff and passing along feedback to Cooper, but he does expect that to change as the process continues along. 

“No my coach has actually been talking to them, actually I think he contacted my coach because he said there were a few open scholarships and they were looking for players, some specific players and I fit what they were looking for so he came down to check me out and he liked me,” Cooper said.

As for SMU’s postseason ban, their undefeated season and the recruiting restrictions that have been a hot topic all season long, Cooper says it doesn’t bother him and he’s only focused on himself and contributing as much as possible if he were to join the Mustangs. 

“I heard about the situation but that really doesn’t bother me, I try to just stay focused on the task at hand and that’s playing basketball and being a student athlete,” Cooper said, “So I don’t think if I did go there that would be a major factor in me choosing them because I believe that situation is pretty much wrapped up and over with so I’m looking towards the future now and not really what happened before I got there.”

Cooper is a little bit of an unknown although he does have some good size, he has tried to model himself after an NBA player that is known for being one of the best all-around players in the league. 

“I would describe myself as a player like Draymond Green, a player that can do a little bit of everything.”

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