Kent Hires Former South Carolina Assistant John Cooper
April 19, 2002
EUGENE - Oregon men's basketball coach Ernie Kent has hired John Cooper to his staff. Cooper, an assistant at South Carolina under Eddie Fogler, fills the vacancy left when Greg Graham accepted the head coaching position at Boise State.
'When we started this process, the goal was to get the best possible coach available to strengthen our staff,' said Kent. 'We're not going to be able to replace Greg Graham in terms of his friendship and knowledge of our system, so what I tried to do is strengthen our staff in some other areas and with this hire and I feel like I've done that. I'm very pleased with what John is bringing to the table.'
'Obviously I'm elated to join the staff,' said Cooper. 'Ernie has done a good job with the program, and coming off the year that Oregon had makes it a little more special to have the opportunity to join a staff that has taken a program to the level it is. I just hope to come in and add a little bit to it.
'I wanted to be associated with people who had the same beliefs that I did - really helping kids and doing it in a classy and professional manner,' said Cooper.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Cooper spent six years on Fogler's staff at South Carolina from 1995 to 2001. During his time in Columbia, S.C., the Gamecocks won the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title in 1997 and went to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 1997-98. He coached 1998 NBA Draft choice Ryan Stack, a center who went to Cleveland in the second round (48th pick).
Prior to South Carolina, Cooper spent two seasons as an assistant to Rick Duckett at Division II Fayetteville State in Fayetteville, N.C. During his tenure, Fayetteville State was 18-10 in 1993-94 and 15-10 in 1994-95.
'In the short time that he was here in town (during his interview), we felt like we had known John for the last 10 years,' said Kent. 'I think he is going to be a great addition to our staff. He is an outstanding recruiter, very well-schooled in X's and O's. We had a certain set of criteria and everything that were looking for, he fit perfect.'
Cooper, 33, was a standout forward for Wichita State, playing his first two seasons under Fogler. He scored 1,153 points during his career (1988-91), which ranks 21st in Shocker history and was team MVP as a junior. He led Wichita State in scoring and rebounds during both his junior and senior seasons, averaging 17.0 points per game as a junior and 20.8 points per game his final year. He was team captain his final two seasons and a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
'I think that I come from a background that has prepared me for this opportunity,' said Cooper. 'I think I bring a good working basketball knowledge to the table. Hopefully I can bring something to the staff that's a little bit different and I certainly expect to learn from the staff at Oregon.'
After graduating in 1991 with a degree in business administration, Cooper was drafted by Fort Wayne of the Continental Basketball Association. He played one year with Fort Wayne and then another season for a European team in Den Helder, Holland, before joining the coaching ranks.
The 1987 graduate of Kansas City's Rockhurst High School spent the past year as a healthcare representative for Pfizer Incorporated.