Cooper took the Nike EYBL by storm in 2018. AOT's 6-foot-2 floor general became the first underclassman in league history to win Offensive Player of the Year after averaging 22.6 points, 7.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 21 games.
Cooper will be returning to lead AOT in 2019, and simply put, point guards don't come much more dynamic than Cooper. We caught up with the talented guard at USA Basketball's mini-camp in Minneapolis as he prepares to make his encore run in the EYBL.
Q: Take us through the experience at USA basketball? Having fun?
Sharife Cooper: It’s a great experience, playing with all of these guys from around the country and playing with everyone in my class. Just being out here and being able to talk to these guys and be here for the weekend is really fun.
How important is it to you to represent USA Basketball? Was it a hard decision to skip GEICO Nationals?
SC: It’s definitely been a dream of mine since I was a kid. So when my dad said I was invited, he automatically said yes. When that happened, then GEICO came after, and we didn’t want to change our mind to say we couldn’t go here because of that. We had to stick to our word.
You won offensive Player of the Year last year as an underclassmen, first underclassmen to do that. How do you top that? What are your expectations?
SC: Just try not to think about last year. Just come in as a new player, I think I got a lot better since the summer. I have to go through the summer and progress, and I can’t be the same player I was last year.
You’re a super composed point guard. It always feels like you’re even-keeled. Is that something you’ve worked on through the years?
SC: I wouldn’t say I work on it, It’s kind of just natural. I feel like I’ve been in every situation that game can bring, so it’s really nothing new.
What’s the biggest difference between EYBL and high school?
SC: I wouldn’t say it’s too much of a difference. Definitely more size in EYBL.
What’s the most important factor when deciding a school?
SC: Chemistry with my teammates. Being somewhere I can play with my guys and be unselfish. Just having fun with the game. I just want to compete really, and be in a place that I can win.
How is it playing under your dad? How has that experience been?
SC: It’s definitely a great experience. He knows me best, so he’s definitely going to push me to be the best player I can be. Even though he’s my dad, he’s probably the hardest on me. It’s definitely been a great thing for me.